Family History of Charity LaDelle Allen Kane
Auto Biography Of Charity LaDelle Allen Kane
Richard Ellis Varner married Abigail Dye. They lived in Parkerville
Kansas – I have no memory of either of my great grandparents.
Mary Lucy Varner married James Alexander Bell – LaDelle’s
I do not know where Grandfather Bell was born. I do know he had a
brother in Nebraska but I have no memory of ever meeting him.
Aunts & Uncles
Edward Bell – Icy Newcomb – No children (deceased)
Edward gave John and LaDelle $2500 when he died.
Campsie Bell (deceased) married Ralph Collier
Jim Collier & Eleanor Collier (wife from CO) They had 2 sons and 1
Still live on farm between Alta Vista and Council Grove. Eleanor owns
the Hallmark Store in Council Grove.
Glen Bell (deceased) – Bachelor until his sixties. Think a widow married
him for his farm, which was all rich bottomland. However, she earned
the land for she kept him clean, well fed and happy in his declining
Gladys Bell – Ollie Burton – Seattle, Washington
Clyde Burton – deceased
Tina Bell married Edward Jaeger – Ft Collins CO
1 daughter – lives in Missouri
1 son – works in Wichita
1 son – still in Ft Collins
Ada May Bell (LaDelle’s mother and the eldest daughter of the family),
married Albert Newton Allen
Grandfather Bell settled on land adjacent to our farm. Grandmother Bell
had a millinery shop in Alta Vista, Kansas. Later they were to retire to a
large home just outside Council Grove, Kansas.
My memory of Grandfather Bell was a gruff old man and a beard full of
tobacco juice. Somehow I have the impression he was considered tight
fisted. After Grandmother Bell died and he came to live with us, he
would buy horehound candy and place it in a dish on the table but we
were not allowed to touch it. When he died he left all his children either
a complete farm or acreage. Mother received eighty acres adjacent to our
I remember Grandmother Bell as a loving woman but a terrible
housekeeper. No matter how dirty her house, she was always dressed
with rich taffeta.
Charity Ella Dilley married John Lee Allen
My Grandfather Allen joined the Union Army and fought in the battle of
Bull Run. His commanding officer was General Sheridan who if you
remember your history marched through Georgia leaving much
destruction in his wake. I do know my Grandfather never reached
Georgia for he contracted typhoid fever.
My memory of Grandfather Allen is mostly from pictures. I have a vague
memory of Grandmother Allen because I had to lead her around because
she was blind. Because I was her namesake she placed fifty dollars in
my name in a savings bank in Council Grove which I was not allowed to
touch until I was sixteen.
Children of John and Charity Allen
Martha – Wed Edward Mayos – no children. Settled in Medicine Lodge,
Albert Newton Allen (LaDelle’s father) neighbors and friends called him
Mildred wed Ed Hotchkiss. Lived in Manhattan Kansas. Allen Hotchkiss
died in Syracuse NY. Wilma Hilebrandt still lives at 801 Freemont Street
in Manhattan her parents old home. I believe she has two sons but is
divorced. Last I knew she was in her nineties.
Richard Hotchkiss played football at Kansas State. He was a paratrooper
in World War II and was killed on D-Day. Bob Kane (John’s brother)
knew my cousin Richard.
Brydsley Allen wed Carl Nelson and lived on a farm near Allen, Kansas.
They had two children, Lee Nelson, Spokane WA now 81. Thanks to
Gloria his wife, we have kept in touch.
Maureen his sister recently died of cancer in California.
Frank Allen wed Claudia? – Uncle Frank was a rural mailman and lived
in Siebert Colorado. He originally homesteaded land in Colorado and
lived in a sod house. Children were:
Eloise – died in California
Reginold – alcoholic – died in Denver
Marion – Think he is still alive and is a Colonel in the army now
Warren Allen killed in World War II.
Ethan Allen wed Stella? Was a jeweler in Corona California. Never knew
my three cousins except their names as follows: John Lee, Muriel and
Being raised on a farm did not prepare one for a gracious social life.
Farm life was hard. I was the youngest of five daughters. Alberta, 1900,
Mildred Irene 1908, Kathryn Naomi 1910, Ada Geneieve 1914, and
Charity LaDelle 1918.
Alberta was eighteen years of age when I was born so I have no memory
of her ever living at home.
I really think I was one last desperate attempt to sire a son. By the time
I was born my parents had made their fortune so to speak. I know their
early years must have been hard for parts of their first home remained
on the property. I know I did not appreciate the fine polished floors – the
entrance hall that led up an open stairway or the fine polished pillars
that led to a parlor that held a horse hair sofa – an axminster carpet and
a piano where we all practiced our piano lessons. In those days all well
brought up young ladies had to know how to play the piano. Every
Saturday we drove to Alta Vista to have our music lessons. It is too bad
so much time and effort was wasted for only Alberta and Gen had real
musical talents and played for their respective churches until they were
too old to do so, or in Alberta’s case, when she died too young from a
Our big five-bedroom farmhouse was situated between the Pleasant
Ridge Church and the Pleasant Ridge School. We only had to walk a
quarter of a mile south to church and a quarter of a mile north to school.
My Mother was very involved with both. She taught Sunday school class
and if an Easter or Christmas program was planned, she was the head of
the project. Dad was a member of the school board. Since Mother was
so involved, all her daughters found themselves playing a major part in
the projects. Gen and I sang so many duets in church it is a wonder
other members did not complain. I spoke to Gen yesterday and her
comment was “I think we were very good!”
It was not until I was in school and was able to visit other farm house
that I began to take pride in our home. My best friend in grade school
lived in a five-room shack with eight siblings stuffed in two small rooms
under the eaves. As I write this I have tried to think of one neighbor who
had a home equal to our own and I can only think of two or three that
came close to what I consider nice. The Jays who lived closer to Alta
Vista had a nice home, and later Aunt Campsey and Uncle Ralph built a
very nice farmhouse.
My parent’s house still stands and those who bought the property have
kept the house in good shape. The only thing that is missing now are the
trees that had to be destroyed when they widened the road. We had a
wonderful big old shade tree in the back and a cedar tree to the south.
Farm life was not easy for a woman. There were gardens to plant, milk
to be separated, bread to bake, butter to churn, incubators to turn eggs
into chicks, fruit, vegetables and meat to can. There were berries to pick
and jelly to make. On top of all that, the work women in those days
made all the clothes for the family except the mens overalls.
Our refrigerator was the simple concept of lowering a large bucket deep
in the well. Every drop of water had to be carried from the well. We all
had our tasks to perform, and carrying in wood for the stoves and
gathering eggs were one of Gen and my tasks.
One time I was gathering eggs. The nest was above my head and when I
put in my hands to feel for eggs, it was a snake I felt. Fortunately, it was
a bull snake that had gorged himself on hen’s eggs and it became his last
When I was given the task to bring in the cows for milking, I believed if I
ran really fast that a snake would not have time to strike.
One task we were not allowed to do was milk a cow. I understand the
reason was the knuckles on our fingers would enlarge, heaven forbid!
My parents were really too old to raise another child. As a result I turned
into a very spoiled, tantrum throwing, obnoxious child. My sisters
named me boss. Some might say I have not changed that much except
for my age.
My parents were also very protective of our associates. Our neighbors to
the north were not suitable because Henry Seabert imbibed and they
attended barn dances. Drinking and dancing were definite no-nos. Poor
John, he did both.
When I was small the family washing was done in wash tubs with a
manual wringer attached to the tub. Later mother had a motor propelled
washing machine which made so much noise and was so hard to start.
It was almost more trouble than it was worth.
We no longer kept spoilables in the well for we had an ice box. They may
have been fine in town where the iceman delivered the ice, but in the
country, a trip to town almost every other day to bring home ice was
necessary. It too was almost more trouble than it was worth.
There were no carpet sweepers so rugs had to be carried out to the
clothesline and beat with a broom. Of course, these last items appeared
when I was older.
With all her other tasks my Mother had many daughters to sew for and
she made all our clothes. I remember she made Gen a new dress for her
birthday and Kay and I attempting to pat Gen on the back for every year
of her life, tore her brand new dress. I personally think we both deserved
a good spanking. However, spankings were very rare in our family. I
was the recipient of one and Gen another.
I must have been three or four when I received my first and only
spanking. It seems I filled my plate and then wanted another helping of
something. I could not have another helping without finishing the food
on my plate. I decided if I couldn’t eat what I wanted, I was not going to
eat anything and started to leave the table. My Father grabbed me back
in my chair. My Father and Sandie would not have gotten along since
she has a tendency to fill her plate and only eat half. I do know,
however, I should have received many, many more spankings.
The other spanking was administered by my Mother on Gen. It seems
Gen had lost her hoe – not for the first time.
I attended all eight grades at the Pleasant Ridge Country School. I was a
straight A student, not because I had a brilliant mind, but because I had
no competition since there were only four in my class. Too, if I did not
feel I knew my lessons perfectly, I would throw a temper tantrum until
Mother dropped everything and went over my lessons with me. Poor
I did compensate some for my bad behavior for somehow I was born with
a sense of cleanliness and order. I started cleaning house at a very
young age. I would come home from school and even dust the stairs on
my hands and knees but when my sisters came home from high school
and tossed their books on the clean and orderly dining room table, I
erupted into another temper tantrum. What a waste of energy! However,
the truth of the matter is – I still detest dirt and disorder.
My father may have been a farmer, but he also loved to travel. Having
worked hard all his younger years, he could afford to hire a man to look
after the farm while he took time off to see the world so to speak. Gen
was a baby when they made their first trip to Colorado in a covered
wagon. I do not remember my first trip, but a photo showed me setting
on my Mothers lap while rocks were behind the wheels of a Model T Ford
as steam hissed from the radiator. I was told they were on the road up
I was told I had so much energy I ran up a mountain and no one could
catch me and they were afraid I would fall. From that trip on, my
memory improved and I discovered being stuffed in a hot car all day and
watching endless scenery go by was absolutely boring. And to think I
married a travel agent!
I have a vague memory of my Father coming in from the fields, his face
white as death and the utter chaos that followed for my Father was
vomiting blood. That was the first attack of bleeding ulcers that was to
plague him until his death.
Our next trip was to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota where both
Dad and I were patients. Dad for his ulcers and me for severe hay fever.
Dad was placed on a liquid diet and was told to drink only soft water and
milk. A raw beaten egg could be placed in the milk and only raw
chopped beef could be eaten. Uck! I on the other hand, had twelve slits
down my back. If my memory serves me right, I was allergic to a good
many. Many flowers were a no-no and the worse culprit was ragweed
that grew profusely on every Kansas farm. However, the Mayo Clinic
missed one which I discovered too many years later and suffered many
migraine headaches during the years because I was foolish enough to
each dark chocolate which still affects me to this day.
I remember very little about the trip to Minnesota, but for some reason
the Black Hills of South Dakota remained in my memory as being very
When we returned home a cistern was installed and for the first time my
Mother had a sink and a pump in the house. The down side of that trip
was they had to take me to town every other day to receive my hay fever
The folks bought Mil and Kay a new one horse cart so they could attend
high school in Alta Vista, which was a six-mile trip one way. Kay decided
to take Gen and I for a ride. Unfortunately, she hitched the horse too
close to the cart. However, at a sedate pace we reached the church and
turned toward home. Unfortunately on our way home, the horse started
to trot and the back of his legs hit (I think it is called a single tree). Gen
fell of in the road while the horse headed straight for the front porch but
swerved at the last minute. That is when I was tossed and barely missed
being slammed into the porch. Kay came off when the horse ran under
Fires were always a threat and there were no fire engines. I don’t think
Alta Vista had a fire department. The only help a farmer had was his
neighbors. If one rang a series of short rings on the telephone, everyone
ran to the phone – for a general ring 9s it was called meant someone was
in trouble and needed help.
I am afraid I was responsible for a general ring. I must have been
around six or seven. Mil and I shared a room. She must have been in
the room for the oil lamp was lit on the dresser. I can even remember
the dresser was cornerwise on the southmost wall. I picked up a
celluloid comb and held it over the chimney. Instantly one end burst
into flame, which I dropped on the floor and immediately started
screaming “Fire”. How embarrassing when the neighbors arrived with
their pails when there was only a small darker smudge on the varnished
I was not responsible for our next fire and I was much older, maybe ten
or twelve. It must have been an early spring, windy day. I say that
because Mom was taking birds nests from the gutters that fed water into
the cistern. Unfortunately a draft caught the sparks which landed on
our roof. Farmers arrived with their pails. They didn’t need ladders.
They hoisted men on the first story roof and then to the top of the roof
while others carried water from the well. I never saw the damage but I
understood it was considered minor. Gen and I were too busy pushing
the piano out on the porch. Smart! Very smart! The piano was the last
thing we needed to save. No every one can be cool and think sensibly
during a crisis.
Another danger to everyone is of course the tornadoes. When I was
young, I thought tornadoes only happened in Kansas. How little we
knew of the national news in those days or perhaps I was too young to
know. I do know I was terribly afraid when the wind blew and often
crept downstairs to crawl in bed with Mom & Dad. However, I remember
only one incident. I know Dad yelling up the stairs telling us to run for
the cellar where we kept potatoes, canned goods, etc awakened us. A
cellar is in reality a deep hole in the ground covered with wooden beams
and mounds of dirt to keep it cool. We all ran for the cellar but when we
arrived wet and scared, Gen and Kay were missing. The wind had
slammed their bedroom door so hard it had broken the doorknob. They
thought any minute would be their last. Dad ran back to the house,
busted through the door and arrived back in the cellar with both of them
in tow. However, by that time they considered the danger past.
After Mil and Kay graduated from high school, they started teaching in
country schools. Our Mother too had been a country schoolteacher.
By then Gen started high school. She drove the Model T and took Kay to
her school, picked up some neighbors, and then took Mil to her school. I
guess no one needed a license to drive in those days. Gen started school
when she was five, so she started driving when she was thirteen.
I believe Mil only taught two years before she married Ralph Martin a son
of a farming family who attended our church. We were all friends with
their family. Ralph and Mildred moved to Lyons Kansas, where Ralph
worked all his life in the boiler room of a salt company for there were too
large salt mines in that area.
Kay bought one Arabian horse she named Sweetheart so she could ride
to a school three or four miles south of home. Sweetheart was not
always sweet. She was high strung and temperamental. I had what I
considered two narrow escapes, which in retrospect I can only blame one
on the horse.
Alberta and Raymond Osborne had bought a farm about four miles west
of us. Their eldest son, Kenneth, was only a few years younger than I
was and he was more of a playmate than a nephew and often stayed with
Mother asked me to go to my cousin’s farm and bring back her kettle.
Aunt Gladys was not well (severe depression) and Mother had taken the
family a kettle of food. I went into the barn to saddle Sweetheart.
Everytime I tried to put the bridle over her head she would snort and
toss her head. Dad entered the barn and gave me a lecture on being the
master of the horse, not let the horse master me. With his help
Sweetheart was bridled and saddled and with Kenneth behind me, we set
off for my cousins which was probably a little over a mile north and
West. They lived on Grandpa Bell’s original farm. Everything was fine
until Sweetheart got so eager to reach home and tossed her head and
started to trot. The lid of the kettle started to rattle. Sweetheart took the
bit between her teeth and was off to the races – with Kenneth clinging
desperately to my waist. I had no choice. It was either the kettle or the
two of us. I think we were almost home before I could bring Sweetheart
under control. I do know when I walked back to find the kettle it seemed
a good distance. It’s funny but I cannot remember a single dent on that
kettle. However, that was a fright I never forgot.
Another time Mom asked me to take Dad his dinner to the field for he
was working on the far west field. I think Kay must have been helping
Dad in the field. Maybe Mom couldn’t find Gen. For whatever reason I
was chosen for the task. There was a slew or slough dividing the North
and South field. It was of course full of brush and tall weeds.
Sweetheart refused to cross the slew. She would take several steps
forward, snort and back away. Remembering Dads advise to the master
of the horse, I kicked her sides. Sweetheart did not go through the slew
at a sedate pace, but lunged and sailed over that ravines like a steeple
chase jumper. It was a miracle I remained in the saddle. I looked back
and rattlesnakes seemed to be crawling all over the place. I learned a
very valuable lesson. When a usually cooperative horse balks, trust the
horse’s instincts. Many animals are smarter than humans.
My father who told me to be master of the horse received a broken neck
trying to master a horse. I think Dude was the horse. I know my father
was in Christ’s Hospital in Topeka and when he came home Mom had to
tie his hands to the bedpost because the nerves in his neck were severely
injured. I must have been three or four at the time.
Somehow with all our adversity we still managed to travel. There are
some things I remember such as Old Faithful and the bear that invaded
our tent in the middle of the night at Yellow Stone National Park. I
remember with awe and perhaps a little feeling of fright when we went to
As you can see, we did not travel first class. We did not stay in fancy
hotels and eat in fine restaurants. Motels in those days were not in
existence. My Mother cooked over a campfire and we slept in a tent.
Campgrounds were numerous and there were many campers just like us
in those days. I remember our trip to California but only Gen and I went
on that trip. Mil was married and for some reason Kay remained home.
I was to wish often that I had done so, for the sea and I were not
compatible. Dad insisted we all try deep-sea fishing. I fed the fishes
instead of fishing. To add insult to injury, we must visit Catalina Island
and see the ocean floor from a glass bottom boat. I really never forgave
my father for that trip. And to think I married a travel agent! Though
John and I went on numerous cruises, I started taking motion sickness
pills before I ever boarded a ship. Even today the sea holds no appeal to
The grand redwoods in the Sequoia national Forest were magnificent and
easy to remember. By the time we reached Yosemite National Park, I
must confess I wanted to go home. I have no memory of magnificent
scenery and only on incident remains in my memory.
Our parents wanted to walk to visit some spectacular scenery. We
parked along side many other paused cars whose owners were also
interested in the view. Gen and I elected to remain in the car. By that
time we were all viewed out. The car next to ours had a big wooden box
tied to the back of the car. A big bear came along and sniffed at the box.
I remember how easily he ripped the wooden planks from that box and
soon all their food supplies were on the ground. Evidently they did not
have much to satisfy his hunger. At that time we had a Model A green
four door Ford with a permanent metal trunk attached to the rear.
While Gen and I sat petrified with fear, the bear wanted inside our trunk.
Instead of ripping the trunk from the car, our car kept moving
backwards. Fortunately someone had alerted the forest rangers who
came with whips and guns and chased him away.
On our return we crossed the salt flats in Utah where water bags were
numerous on every car. Eventually we camped at Steamboat Springs
where Dad started hemorrhaging and had to be rushed to whatever
medical facilities they had at the time. I do remember the small
mountain stream near the campground where I played. I caught a trout
with my hands by boxing the fist with rocks. I do know Mom cooked the
fist for me.
Again, I do not know the year but any security we felt before that time
completely disappeared. The Alta Vista Bank closed its doors on my
parent’s entire life savings in what has become known as the great
depression. There was no money and my Mother dressed chickens and
sold eggs from door to door in Council Grove. There were no music
lessons, no hay fever shots and many times I slept on the parlor floor
because I could breath easier.
We had never locked the doors on our farm. I think the keys had long
disappeared. When the depression came, hobos came by regularly
begging for work or food. Mother always found something to give them.
Dad kept his shotgun handy but no one ever stole anything that we were
aware of. I doubt if we would have missed a chicken and several eggs.
I started high school in Council Grove because Clyde Burton, my cousin
could drive a car and was a year older than I was. When he graduated I
rode with a neighbor to Alta Vista High School.
By this time, Kay had married Jerry McDiffitt and they lived in Alta Vista.
Jerry was a mechanic in a garage. They were having difficulty making
ends meet so to speak. My parents were unable to help either Kay or
Alberta and Raymond lost their farm and with fifty dollars, an old Ford
Coupe, and two children, started West looking for work. They found
work with a rancher near Terrelon Idaho which at that time was desert.
Raymond worked and Alberta cooked for the ranch hands. At night they
borrowed the rancher’s horses and started clearing adjacent land of
rocks and sagebrush. Later a dam was built and all the land is now
irrigated and productive land. My sister was able in later years to afford
a Cadillac. Their second son Russell still lives on the original land and
spends his winters in Arizona.
The summer before I entered Alta vista High School I had my first date,
only it was a complete surprise to me. I can only remember the girl’s
first name. Zelma asked me to go home with her after church and spend
the night. Zelma was new in the neighborhood. Her mother, a widow
with a daughter to raise, had somehow snagged a local bachelor who
some claimed still had in his pocket the first cent he ever made. Mother
gave her permission and what neither she nor I knew, either Zelma or
her mother arranged for us to go to Council Grove to a movie with two
Even as I went along to the movie I knew my parents would never
approve, for neither were considered good young men. How my parents
found out I never knew. However, they came to Council Grove, marched
into the theater and marched me out. How very humiliating and
embarrassing! In this case I think they were wrong and over protective.
We were simply four people going to a movie. Needless to say, it was the
first and last time I ever visited Zelma. I often wonder what happened to
Zelma? I do know my parents also went to Alta Vista one time and
pulled Kay from a dance floor in front of the entire town. I know they
were trying to protect us .. just a little too much and in such innocent
endeavors. However, as I tried later to understand the situation, Kay too
was with someone they considered had a bad reputation. I believe Kay
and I were the only so called sinners. Gen & Mil escaped a public
humiliation. Perhaps it was our parent’s reputation that kept the local
I must regress a bit. Those who taught in country schools for eight
months usually saved their money and attended Emporia State Teachers
College in the summer months. I know Kay did, because it was Kay who
returned home with all sorts of ideas and skills that she imparted to her
younger sisters. Kay had learned how to play tennis so we must have a
tennis court. Uncle Ollie Burton who was the local road grader for our
country roads came and scraped a piece of land for her. Our tennis net
was sewn together gunnysacks attached to a rope strung between two
posts. Our court was marked off with wood ashes. We spent a lot of
time on that tennis court. One became a good tennis player for if one
missed your opponent’s ball, one had to run after it. I never played
against anyone I cauld not defeat.
Kay and Gen brought home to us the art of tap dancing. Emporia State
Teachers College called a clogging course. Great subjects for a
schoolteacher. However, I thought tap dancing was great. I spent hours
on the front porch tapping away and wearing out my shoes. Gen did not
seem very interested. Gen wanted to be a great opera singer. The
machine shed, which had a gentle sloping roof, was her stage where she
performed while I sat below being an audience of one. No one can accuse
us of not having a great imagination. Gin just reminded me it was in
1931 when both she and Kay took a course in clogging at college and
brought the art home to me. I was in the 8th grade at the time. She also
reminded me it was Kay and her that learned to play tennis and brought
the art to the farm. As you can see my memory of these years is not
Gen also told me Kay attended enough college during the summer
months to have the equivalent hours of summer school to equal two
years of college. Gen lacked one semester from having a college degree
before Cecil Eshnaur enticed her to marry him.
Some may consider farm life dull. We had a radio, a piano, and a
croquette set which we played before Kay interested us in tennis. We
rode horses. We had a baseball team and I was allowed to play third
base simply because Kay and Gladys Martin were the head honchos. We
played against another girl’s baseball team at the County Fair. I cannot
remember if we won or lost. Kay also raced Sweetheart at the County
We also went swimming in the creek that ran through Uncle Glenn’s
property. There was also fishing. To my knowledge none of us learned
how to embroidery which was one art our parents missed in our
At that time, only about 40% of farm children continued on to high
school let alone to college. There were no schools buses back then. Just
an 8th grade education was normal for a country girl or boy. No one in
my class ever graduated from high school. Margaret, my best friend at
grade school never attended high school.
As I think of my growing up years, I consider how fortunate I was. I
know of no one who traveled and saw as much of the country as we did.
Considering my classmates and neighbors at that time, I can only think
they were in awe of the Allen Family.
I played the violin in the Council Grove Orchestra. I can only think I
took up the violin because we had a violin at home, which my oldest
sister Alberta once played. Truthfully, I was not that good.
Gen played the piano for our church and one Sunday she was ill.
Mother volunteered my services. I turned the solemn and slow church
music into jazz time. I know I must have been a great humiliation to my
Mother. Needless to say, I never played another note at any church
When my cousin, Clyde, graduated from high school in Council Grove, I
rode to Alta Vista High with a neighbor for my last year of high school. I
suppose one could say I had a boy friend my senior year. His name was
Kenneth Avery and he was the son of the Rock Island Agent in Alta Vista.
He was also the only boy in high school who had his own car. I cannot
remember Kenneth ever kissing me which only goes to show my sex
appeal was zero. I was home one weekend when I worked in Manhattan.
I remember I was dressed in a pair of sexy short shorts and bouncing a
tennis ball off the roof of the front porch when Kenneth, his wife and
baby daughter drove in. I learned Kenneth was working in Emporia. He
still drove the same car and did not look too prosperous. Later I heard
he died suddenly and was only in his thirties. I never heard why he died
I do remember teaching my friends in high school how to tap dance and
we performed on the Alta Vista Stage for some event. I never learned
whether my parents were proud or humiliated by the event.
My last year of high school I was sixteen and I could withdraw the money
my grandmother had given me at my birth which was the great sum of
$100. I was rich. I am ashamed to say I cannot account for the money
because all I can remember was having an occasional ice cream soda at
the Alta Vista Drug Store. I am sure it must have bought me some
clothes and I do remember I had my fist store bought new coat.
When I graduated from high school I took the State Normal Training
Examination and started teaching in country schools. I taught my first
school for $45.00 a month. I remember Gin and I bought grey wool suits
with genuine fur collars to attend the teachers meeting at Council Grove.
I cannot remember what we paid, but I think $15.00. At that time that
would have been a very expensive outfit.
I also remember having a 21-year-old Indian girl in my first school. She
was married and had a baby. She dropped out of school after a few
We were given instructions on how to teach by our county
superintendent and I never forgot one of her instructions which was, and
I quote, “Your first duty is to establish discipline for without discipline
one cannot teach!”
In my three years of teaching I never had one problem with discipline.
The young people then learned discipline at home.
The second year I taught, I earned $55.00 a month and paid $10.00 a
month room and board. My third year I was paid $67.50 a month.
I wish I could say I was an excellent teacher, but I cannot lie. I think I
was a good teacher, but I would never use the words excellent to describe
my career. Teaching was not a nine to five job. One had to be at school
early to build a fire to warm the school. One had to sweep the floors,
carry in the coal and wood and prepare lessons for the following day.
When one taught all eight grades, one had to utilize their time wisely.
The first grade who could neither read nor write required more time so I
prepared tests over lessons for the upper grades they were supposed to
study for the following day so every night I prepared tests for different
grades for at least one of their days subjects, which meant at night I had
to grade papers and prepare more tests.
Looking back I can only say perhaps I made a difference to one of my
students - George. As I looked back on the previous teacher’s reports, I
was horrified to see he was in the fifth grade with grades far below
average. In my estimation he should never have been promoted to the
fifth grade. He was so accustomed to bad grades he did not ever try.
Perhaps his parents or previous teachers convinced him he was stupid or
perhaps he was just lazy. I do know I kept him after school for weeks
working with him an hour every day. When he received his first 100, I
held up his paper and announced to the school George had received a
100. The entire school clapped. Whether he gained confidence in
himself or decided studying was better than staying after school, I guess
I will never know. However, I very seldom had to keep him after school
One of my good friends in high school was Wilamine Langvordt who we
all called Willie. That is the reason I cannot spell her name. Willie
worked in Kansas City and wrote about a new machine called the
Comptometer that an operator could make add, subtract, multiply and
divide. She said operators of this machine could make an excellent
salary. She urged me to come to Kansas City and enroll in a
Comptometer school, so I did.
Kansas City was more expensive than I estimated. I almost starved to
death before I asked my parents for money, which I knew, was scarce.
They sent me fifty dollars so I could finish the course and hopefully find
a job. Two weeks later the U S Government appeared and gave us tests.
The US General Accounting Office in Manhattan hired me for the great
sum of $120.00 a month. I never finished the course. However, I had to
last a month before I received a paycheck. I found a room with a hot
plate for $20.00 a month. I limited myself to one 10-cent can of soup
and 2 slices of bread a day. I have never starved since. I not only repaid
my parents but also installed electricity in the farmhouse for them.
The average mans salary at that time was $80.00 a month. I was
wealthy! Working for the government in those days was not easy. You
were in your chair when the head of the office hit the button on his little
bell. One did not gossip or waste time for losing ones job would have
been a calamity. When the bell rang again one could take a fifteen-
minute break and go to the bathroom. I did have the distinction in my
second year of being told I had put out more work than anyone else in
the Central Division, which they considered to be a great
accomplishment. That same year I also had the distinction of
contracting diphtheria. I knew I had a sore throat but I had agreed to
play tennis with some one so I went and played tennis. My throat
became so bad I finally had to go to the doctor. When I was told I had
diphtheria I went home. Except for my throat I did not feel too badly.
However, all my tests even when I felt completely well kept returning
positive. For a time there was concern I might be a carrier but eventually
the results returned negative.
My friend Willie wrote she had met a new boy which she liked very much.
He had a friend and she wanted me to come to Kansas City so I could go
out with his friend. The way she wrote they were both as handsome as
Clark Gable, so I went to Kansas City and met John Kane. To be honest
I was not impressed. John was very thin and I did not consider him as
handsome as Clark Gable. We went to a nightclub and since everyone
else ordered a drink, what could I do? I did not know how to dance or
what drink to order. I wish now I had questioned John about his first
impression of myself. It could not have been love at first sight.
Frankly, my first taste of liquor was revolting. I never changed my
opinion. John was very patient teaching me to dance. One thing the
Kanes did well was drink and dance. I do not think I ever expected to see
John Kane again, but one weekend I received a call and he said he was
in town and asked me to go with him to a movie. I went. I learned he
was well acquainted with Manhattan for he had enrolled as a freshman
at KS. He did not make the grades so he was in Kansas City taking a
course in learning to be an airline instrument mechanic. His home was
To be truthful, John was probably my 5th date ever. As I look back on
my teaching career I never met one young man I would consider dating
even if I had been asked which no one did. Besides Willies’ brother who
was more a friend that a date and several dates with brother or friends of
people I worked with, my dating was more on a friendly basis than a
John and I certainly did not date often for we lived and worked too far
apart. I went to Kansas City perhaps once a month and John drove to
Manhattan in his fathers’ car when he went home to Topeka. Our
relationship advanced until John asked me to come to Topeka to meet
his parents. I will never forget the date for it was December 7, 1941. We
had walked to the neighborhood drug store for some reason and were
walking back to 1824 Washburn when a man yelled out his car window
as he passed “The Japs bombed Pearl Harbor”.
It was February of 1942 when John went home and told his parents he
had enlisted in the Air Force. Then he drove to Manhattan and told me
he was being sent to an air base in New Jersey. I never saw John Kane
again until October of 1944. However, we exchanged letters. His were so
censored I never really knew where he was stationed or what he was
doing. I did not know if he were safe or fighting for his life. As it
happened he was probably in the safest place in the world at that time.
The Kanes were lucky. Bun was on a ship in the Pacific and survived.
Dick was an officer in the Navy and was stationed in Australia. Bob
Kane did not pass a physical because of a hear condition but it seems to
me he was used in some office capacity in the states. It seemed young
men were dying all over the world. A close friend at work lost her
husband in Italy. They had only been married a few weeks before he was
Ruth and I shared an apt in Manhattan. She left the government to be
close to her parents who lived west of Kansas City. Ruth found work at
Aircraft Accessories in Kansas City and wanted me to join her. The plant
needed Comptometer Operators. Feeling I should contribute to the war
effort, I joined her. Six months later Ruth met a man she wished to
marry. I cannot remember his name, but he too was in the Air Force.
When he was assigned to a base in California, she quit Aircraft
Accessories and departed for California. I can only remember he too
survived the war. I forgot to mention Willie married Johns’ friend who
also survived the war. I spoke to her just a few weeks ago. Willie too has
macular degeneration and is practically blind. Bernie too is not well.
After Ruth departed I had to find a roommate and moved into a two
bedroom apt with two older girls who worked in the accounting
department. It was not a good move. My roommates were big city girls.
One was in her thirties and was divorced. The first time I became
acquainted with women who drank, dated and slept around. One
became pregnant by dating a married man and had an abortion. They
went out three or four nights a week leaving me to clean the apartment
and wash all the dirty dishes. I was not a happy camper. The older
divorced woman’s’ sister came to town and soon the two of them left to
live elsewhere. I breathed a sign of relief. The girl who had the abortion
was really not too bad and did her share. She was not attractive and had
big legs. I have reason to believe she got involved with the wrong crowd.
I found Helen at work that moved in with us. Helen was a country girl.
We became good friends and good roommates. She was my bridesmaid
when I married John. She never married and we kept in touch until we
moved to Boulder and somehow I lost my address book, which I still
regret to this day.
John finally arrived from overseas the latter part of October 1944. He
stopped in Kansas City, stayed a couple of days, and asked me to marry
him. He was still in the Air Force and would need to return to a base
back east to receive his discharge.
We had very little time and I resigned at Aircraft Accessories. John had
three strikes against him in my parent’s eyes. He was Catholic and they
thought all Catholics worshipped the Virgin Mary. There were no
Catholics in our neighborhood or in Alta Vista. I do not remember seeing
a Catholic Church in Council Grove though I am sure there must have
been one. I can smile now as John and I confronted my parents. John
confessed he had a drink occasionally and liked to dance. Dad was ill
and incapable of using a shotgun. We escaped with their acceptance of
Mom Kane came to Kansas City and helped John choose my rings and
helped me choose a blue suit for our wedding. Dad was too ill to walk
down the aisle or attend our wedding, so Jerry McDiffitt, Kay’s’ husband
did the honors.
As I write this it seems ridiculous I cannot remember more about our
wedding. I do know we returned to Kansas City on the train after our
wedding reception and a meal at a restaurant for our out of town guests,
all planned and paid for by Mom Kane. Correction (reluctantly paid for
by R. B. Kane). We checked into one of Kansas City’s well-known and
finest hotels. We could only afford two nights and returned to the
apartment. The wedding was November 11, 1944. After a few days,
John departed for the East Coast. He assumed he would return to work
in Kansas City with Trans World Airlines. I easily found work at a well-
known meat packing plant in Kansas City in their accounting
department. If I remember correctly, John did not receive his final
discharge papers for a couple of months. By then I discovered I was
pregnant. I was terribly ill. Trying to go to work every day was
impossible. Helen’s younger sister had moved into our apartment and
though I felt badly about leaving them, I returned home to Mom and
John did not return to TWA in Kansas City but was transferred to the
Topeka Airport where he sold tickets, was a member of the ground crew
and cargo handler. In other words, he was a jack of all trades at the
small airport. We moved into the Kane’s’ attic – which had been finished
into an extra bedroom sometime in previous years. My father passed
away from kidney failure while I was pregnant with Carol. All those
liquid diets were his downfall. Dad did not drink or swear. When things
did not go right, he would say “Dickens in Tom Macker” I never did
understand that quotation.
Carol was born August 21, 1945. Her birth cost us the great sum of
$50.00. The doctor who lived three doors North of the Kane’s did not
charge us anything. His name was Dr. O’Connor. I must add, in those
days, a woman giving birth remained in bed for fourteen days.
Mom Kane, before the war, had a cook, a woman named Mabel to clean
and a Mrs. Mallory who came in to wash and iron. I am not sure what
happened to the cook. I assume she went into defense work which was
definitely more profitable. I do know I did not consider Mom Kane a good
cook and I think she found it very difficult at first but she steadily
improved through the years.
With al the service men returning home and the lack of any housing
being built during the war years, finding an apartment we could afford
was impossible. Since Dad Kane was not only a realtor but also sold
insurance, he found us a place. We were lucky because he put a hold on
an apartment that was being built not far from the airport where John
worked. Eventually we moved in. I had spent some of my earnings on a
bedroom suite and a new sofa and chair for Moms’ parlor. I hated to
take the furniture from the farm but we had all we could do to pay
$50.00 a month rent on an $80.00 a month salary and I was already
pregnant with Jim. We did not have a car, so John had to walk a mile to
Looking back on those years, I realize they were much harder on John
than myself. John was accustomed to an affluent home with servants.
He was accustomed to buying items he needed and charging them to his
Dad. Our budget was so thin we could only afford to go to the local
theater once a month which cost us $.25 per ticker.
Carol learned to walk at nine months and I often wished she had never
learned for she was a live wire that climbed and was into everything. I
am sorry now I did not read more about raising babies and what was
normal or abnormal. I really made her life miserable keeping her on the
toilet until she learned to peepee before she was allowed to get down so
to speak. She was trained before she was a year old. Jim was born
November 23, 1946. He was a big baby and I had a very hard labor. I
was really pissed later when I learned John, instead of pacing the floor in
the hospital, had left Carol with Mom Kane and went to a movie.
In reality I had two babies to care for. Jim was a good baby which was a
blessing because I was still trying to keep climbing Carol out of trouble.
Unfortunately, I did not succeed and disaster struck. I was so busy I
never noticed the screens on our second story apartment had shrunk
with the hot weather. The screens had been made with green lumber.
The apartment was not air-conditioned and I had all the windows open.
Climbing carol climbed once too often and fell out the second story
window. Again it is as if my mind went blank at that time. I remember
leaving Jim with a family in a downstairs apt and I think a tenant rushed
us to the hospital.
The doctors did not give us much hope for Carol had three large
fractures the length of her head and numerous small fractures at the
base of her skull. We had to hire three private nurses for a 24 hour a
day watch over her. I shed many tears as I watched her lay so still and
suffer so terribly. Even Bob Nering (Marians husband who was studying
in Kansas City to be a doctor) told us Carol could be paralyzed if she
lived or could be subject to epileptic seizures.
Carol who was such a climber and who had fallen off chairs and pulled a
chest of drawers over on top of her was tougher than they believed. I
once stated I did not even think the top of the refrigerator was out of her
reach. However, when we brought her home we had to keep her caged
like an animal. A cover was tied over her bed and over her playpen. She
looked through the bars like a caged animal begging to be allowed out to
play and climb. When we took her out we had to hold her securely and
let her walk by holding her hand. Although she still has a slight
depression in her skull, none of the doctor’s predictions materialized.
Mom Kane, bless her heart, was always trying to help us. When TWA
gave John the position of ticket agent in the Kansan Hotel, Mom thought
it was time we bought a home. An architect who had an office next to R
B Kane drew up the plans. The build could save us money if we did
some of the rough work ourselves. So we built our first home on Oakley
Street in Topeka which was the second most prestigious building area in
the City. I wonder now if we saved any money by working every night per
the builder’s instructions or whether we made the builders more money.
I do know we put up lath between the studs so the plaster would adhere
to make plastered walls since wallboard was not invented then. I will say
John was not accustomed to using a hammer and I never decided
whether John and I were the culprits or the plasterers were drunk. Only
a very close observer however would realize the walls were not perfectly
So we built a four bedroom, two-bath home for $12,500.00 and that was
without a garage. Our payments were sixty-seven dollars a month.
Again I found trouble paying the bills so I went to work for the Santa Fe
Railroad which had their head office in Topeka. I managed to hire a
middle-aged woman named Madeline to look after the children and clean
house. I believe I paid her $10.00 a week. With my $120.00 a month
and Johns $100.00 we managed to buy a used car – a cream four door
Plymouth and add a breezeway and garage to the house.
Our best friends in Topeka were Carol and Larry Walters. Larry and
John liked to hunt and to fish and we spent many hours playing bridge.
Larry died shortly after John and Carol lives in Arkansas now. We
vacationed in Colorado once and I gave Carol a small piece of pottery the
kids found in an old mine down south of Idaho Springs.
Now those years seemed good. With both of us working we had a nice
home. With my salary I was able to buy some nice furniture. I had the
most wonderful mother-in-law and two healthy children. Life was good.
John had bought 8 rolls of 51 nickels. I do know he sold five rolls and
received enough money to pay cash for a new four door Chevrolet. So we
had two cars. The year escapes me but it seems to me it was before we
came to Colorado.
The Kane’s lived at 1824 Washburn when I first met John. I could look
across the street and see Christ’s Hospital and remember my father had
been a patient there. A broken neck at any time was almost always fatal.
My father survived but he was left with a small hump on the back of his
neck. It was not until I was older and I appreciated the miracle that he
survived being thrown off the horse. In those times farmers broke their
own horses instead of hiring people like John Wayne.
Dad Kane had a great influence on John. I believe if Dad Kane could
have opposed our marriage before John asked me to marry him, he
would have done so. Dad Kane would have been happy if John had
married a daughter of an influential family in Topeka who belonged to
the country club. Dad would tell John he needed to get out more and
join a club where he could make friends. A few days later, John joined
the American Legion and went out every Friday night. Now I regret since
I was working and earning more than John that I did not demand equal
rights and leave John to baby sit while I went out one night a week. Dad
Kane would have had a fit. Dad Kane could be very critical and made
several remarks to me that hurt me badly. I guess I will never know
what I ever did to earn his disapproval.
Marion did everything right. She went to Texas University, was a
candidate for beauty queen and was engaged to a man studying to be a
doctor. Poor Flo! I cannot remember her receiving any words of hearty
approval – only criticism. Even Dad Kane could be wrong for Flo seems
to have bested everyone else in the family!
John was a very religious man and according to the Catholic religion,
practicing safe sex as a sin. One thing I seem to do well was conceives,
so I became pregnant with Barry. After being accustomed to two salaries
living on one became difficult. Mom Kane bless her heart, told us Winter
General Hospital was looking for families to accept their out patients. We
were only two blocks north of Winter General so Bob Rodes became a
roomer. Bob was a very nice young man who had fought in Guadalcanal
and on Iwo Jima. I think it was Iwo Jima where he was only one of three
survivors in his company. Bob took many pictures of Barry as a baby.
However, he was eventually discharged from Winter General and
returned to his home near Kansas City. I returned to work at Santa Fe
and found a Negress named Sarah to care for the children – only to
discover myself pregnant with Susan. I admit after having Carol and Jim
so close together, I was not happy to have another two so close. Too
John’s salary was not equal to raising four children. I think John too
realized this fact and applied for a job in Denver, CO which had a better
chance for advancement. He went to Denver leaving me to sell the house
and pack our possessions.
Susan was six months old when we departed for Colorado. John had
rented a small house near the airport. It was so small Carol and Jim had
to crawl under the table to reach their chairs. The house was in the air
traffic zone and low flying planes zoomed over the house day and night.
The noise was deafening.
When we started looking for a home we did not want near the airport and
eventually decided on a home at 1806 S. Jersey Way. It was not near the
home we sold in Topeka and had to pay more. However, it was a much
handier home from a house wives point of view. It was a good
neighborhood and we belonged to the Skyline Swimming Pool where the
kids could learn to swim. Jim and Carol got in some trouble in
conjunction with their friends. There was an old disserted house not far
from the swimming pool that already had some broken windows. They
broke more and were considering making it into a clubhouse when they
found an empty casket. It must have been without a lid for they
considered it would make a good boat. They carried it to the canal and
launched it but it sank. About this time the police arrived. Needless to
say, we were informed.
It seems John’s salary never kept pace with our family’s demands or else
I was a poor manager which I will never confess to be the truth. Beany
Mullunix who used to attend the same church in Topeka lived only five
blocks west of us. Her husband was a high school teacher. They too
needed money for their growing family, so she baby sat Barry and Susan
while I went to work at Newstetters accounting office in downtown
Denver. I wish I could be more accurate, but the exact years are now a
mystery. I do know TWA opened a downtown office and John was
transferred downtown and given a promotion. Again I thought we had it
made. John also won a trip to Beirut, Lebanon for both himself and his
wife, so we went to Lebanon and were treated royally by a very handsome
Arab who represented the Arabian Airlines and who spoke perfect
English. I think that trip instilled in John a great desire to travel, which
he never lost until he lost his fight against cancer.
I never had trouble finding work and for a time I worked for Kelly Girls.
Then as a part time employee for Sears, which was in the Cherry Creek
Shopping Center and not far from our home. I no longer had to fight the
traffic. Carol was old enough to baby sit but I remember a time when
Jim called Sears and told me Carol had sliced his wrist with a coke glass
and he was bleeding badly. I was out of that office fast and home in ten
minutes. They had a fight and Jim received the worst of the encounter.
I cannot even remember rushing Jim to the doctor, so it must not have
been as bad as I expected. I probably bandaged Jim, scolded them both
and returned to work. Sears was very good to me for I did their payroll.
I also remember it was the time when hiring minorities was almost a
requirement for stores and various companies. It was not a good order.
I am sorry to say the colored girl Sears hired seemed to realize she would
not be fired because she was a minority. In other words, she was useless
and the rest of us did her work, while she received the same pay. I was
sorry to say we did not feel kindly towards her.
My mother died when we lived on 1806 S Jersey Way and my share
amounted to around $1700.00, but it gave us a small nest egg in case of
a calamity. We did not realize then how soon that calamity would strike.
After surviving 20 years with TWA John was let go. He was devastated.
We were both stunned. If John knew why he never told me. He had two
weeks vacation coming. We still had two weeks of free travel and the
money John put into the TWA retirement fund.
I suggested we take the kids to Europe. I thought it would be the last
chance we had to travel free. As it was, it was the best decision to cure
John of the blues. I made the suggestion around six that evening. With
a good neighbors help who did the washing and promised to see to the
refrigerator and the house, we made the eleven o’clock flight to
Washington DC where we could get the kids passports and their
necessary shots. John had no time to moan and he never mentioned the
subject during the entire trip. We went to Portugal. Susan has never
forgotten when we were in Madrid we left her with a baby sitter the hotel
provided while we went out to see the bullfighters sing and dance before
they faced the bulls the following day. I thought Susan was asleep but
unfortunately she awakened and the baby sitter spoke no English.
I think I am correct in saying Susan was six. Barry eight, Jim close to
fifteen and almost outgrew his new pants before the two weeks were up.
Carol was just sixteen. We went on to Paris where we stayed not far from
the Arch de triumph. The hotel had a glass elevator which intrigued 8
year old Barry too much. Unfortunately, he did not remember our room
or floor number. We eventually missed him and started searching. I
think everyone in the hotel heard him calling “Mama!” After that
experience he stayed very close to us as we traveled on to Italy.
There is one problem traveling with a family of six for European Cabs
cannot hold so many. Every where we went it always cost us two cabs.
We eventually faced the disaster and returned home, but in truth John
was hired by Martin Marietta immediately to head their travel
department. I must have returned to work at Sears because I know I
was working when Carol was ready for college. We sent her to Washburn
her first year in case she got homesick she would have Grandma Kane
near. The second year she went to Western State, then Jim was ready
for college. There was no way we could afford to keep two in college so
Carol started work at the Hilton Hotel. Jim went to pick her up after
work one night and they had a wreck on their way home. Fortunately
neither one suffered any serious injury.
Carol met Russell Stone at the Hilton Hotel and married him. Her
marriage was a terrible shock to us. Carol will admit that marriage was
a terrible mistake. Unfortunately, she had two children by then and was
more or less tied to Russ. It took her a good many years to leave him
and seek a divorce. One can always look back and see ones mistakes in
life. We should have been more help to Carol at that time. By that time,
we were living in Boulder. Again, I must regress and I cannot remember
the date when Bud Schroeder approached John about opening a travel
agency in Boulder.
It was a difficult decision. The travel agency could fail. John had a
secure position with Martin Marietta. It was a gamble which we took.
The first agency was in a disserted filling station at the corner of
Arapahoe and 28th. Bud had a franchise for Thrifty Rent A Car. They
both agreed to accept a minimum salary until the principal they
borrowed from the bank was replaced. After a year they moved into an
office on Canyon Blvd where it still exists today under a new name and
Jim was a junior in Western State where he found a job in Dallas for the
summer, met Sandie and married her. Carol went with us to the
wedding for she was divorcing Russ. Again, my memory is bad, but I do
know we were in the Vietnam War. Jim enlisted in the Navy even though
Sandie was pregnant with John. It was a terrible time and the most
terrible war our country ever engaged in. I am only thankful John
through the offices of our US Senator that he was able to have Jim
released from the Navy stipulating undue hardship. Jim came home,
worked in the rent a car agency and returned to College.
Again, I can not remember the year, but Bud Schroeder wanted to sell
the business and retire in Arizona. I expected John to keep the burners
for he had many years of experience. They were offered $100,000 for the
business with the understanding that John would remain in the new
travel agency. When John told me he had bought the rent a car
franchise and expected me to run the business, I was stunned. I could
check the oil on a car but I was ignorant where it came to running a rent
a car agency. That John expected his wife to work at a filling station and
wash cars, I considered a great humiliation. I was not a happy camper.
If it had not been for the children, I would have walked out on him.
The rent a car business was not an 8 to 5 business. To add insult to
injury, John had opened four more outlets. He had great plans for a
business I was to manage while he sat in fine clothes in his air-
conditioned office. He did work on Saturday while I cleaned house,
washed and ironed his white shirts. I never drove any distance less than
eight miles an hour. I cannot conceive how many miles I drove in that
business. It seems there were always cars dropped at the Denver Airport
which needed to be retrieved to their various outlets. I was never home
for my two younger children. It seems I was always rushing home to fix
something easy for dinner so I could go off to the airport or some outlet.
Up until I ran that business, I believed 98% of the public were honest
hard working citizens. For the first time I learned about fake drivers
licenses, stolen credit cards, drug smuggling and criminals using rent a
cars to commit all sorts of criminal activities. Quite by chance I was the
source that allowed the FBI to pick up the 8th most wanted man on their
I cannot remember now how many years I ran that business. I do know
however they day I decided to give John a choice. I do know it was a hot
summer day and I was on my way to Ft Collins in a VW. I was tired but I
was always tired. I went to sleep at the wheel and fortunately for me and
everyone else on the highway I went off on a gentle slope that awakened
me. It brought home to me I could not only have killed myself but other
travelers as well. That evening I gave John an ultimatum. He could
either sell the business or have a dead wife. I can laugh about it now
and think perhaps I was lucky he chose to sell. In retrospect we would
have given the business to Jim. It seems as neither John nor I was
thinking clearly. I only knew I wanted out.
I think for the first time in my life I could sleep late and not work by the
clock. John learned to prepare his own breakfast and seemed to like to
No life is perfect. I suppose if we could all have a second chance we
would vow to do better, be better in what ever we do. John was not a
perfect husband and I was not a perfect wife or mother. John wanted me
to clean and wash cards and still look like Madonna. Unfortunately,
even when we married I could never in a million years resemble
Madonna. Poor John!
Barry graduated from high school and started college in Greeley. We
paid his tuition for two years and he will admit he played around. We
pulled him out of college and told him until he decided what he wanted
to do in life, we had no intention of paying for any more college. Barry
always worked to earn extra money since he was in junior high school.
Now with a future at stake, he still did not know what he wanted to do.
He worked at taking bids on painting houses – and worked in a bar at
night. I cannot remember all the jobs he tried.
Susan graduated from High School and married. She moved to Arizona
had a child while her husband worked as a cook in a restaurant. I have
regrets about Susan. I was never home for her. A teenage girl especially
needs a mother to listen to her problems and Susan had many problems.
Forgive me Susan.
Barry decided he wanted to be a geologist so he returned to college.
John wanted to travel. I would rather have spent the money on our
home to have a nice screened in porch where I could use the grill without
being bothered by flies and mosquitoes.
We traveled and money went out the window. However, thanks to Carol’s
second husband and to the rest of my children, I did have a nice porch,
not perfect perhaps but a nice place for family gatherings.
I cannot remember the year we learned John had prostrate cancer. It
was a year that should have been imprinted in my memory. I do
remember driving him to Denver every other day for radiation treatment
which gave him a good many extra years. I have some bitter memories
against John’s doctors who should have insisted he have tests for cancer
every year. He did not do so. John died too young. However, he did see
most of the world before he died.
We had our ups and downs in life but I still miss him and think of him
I cannot think of any words of wisdom to insure all my children,
grandchildren and great grandchildren perfect happiness and prosperity.
I can only adopt the advertisement the Marines have used.
Be the best you can be! Something I never quite managed. I hope you
all can do better.
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