June 27, 1982
423 Riverside Drive
Eureka, MO 63025
It is 6:30 a.m.. Your dad has not left for work quite yet. Soon I will have to wake him. He is cutting meat at Paul’s Market in Florisant. As I am sitting here with free time, I am thinking of many things. One of the things I am recalling is the time I was with my mother (just she and me) the day after my father was buried. It was a time of sorrow and remembering. My mother told me of many things. She showed me pictures taken thru many years. Some were of people I had never known, some of whom I remembered as relatives when I was a child, but now were long gone to eternity. How very close I felt to my mother. I realized how much I loved her. She is long gone and I have but memories. I cherish those moments, moments alone with my mother. I was a married woman and was hearing things for the first time, family happenings, etc. What I want to do here is to tell you a little of my life and our life.
I am one of 11 children – 7 girls and 4 boys. One of my brothers, Cletus, died in infancy long before I was born. My mother said that there was a fever going around, he caught it and died when he was 1 year old. Times were financially hard. Only within the last 20 years was a tombstone put on his grave.
My dad was a very proud but poor man. He would not owe anyone a penny. If he did not have the money, mother did with what they had. He rented farm land and tilled it for many years. Shortly before I was born (1928) my mom and dad bought our home place with 48 acres.
It was a small two room down-one room up house, formerly owned by a relative (Sommer). I was told that one of the sons of the original owner had been shot in the back while robbing a safe. The parents sold the house and moved far from Josephville, MO. At this time, my dad bought the house. My parents lived in the Schulte house (located up the road) until they added on to their newly purchased house. My parents moved in shortly before I was born. While my mother was still in bed (two weeks was normal at that time) recovering from my birth, there was a fire in the upstairs closet of the house. Since there was only cistern water to be carried by buckets to put out the fire, there was much confusion. One of my older brothers or sisters (I was #9) carried me down the stairs. I guess I was dropped and my arm was broken. My older sister Hed told me that she remembers that because of my arm, only my mother was allowed to pick me up for some length of time.
My dad – what a great father! My mother was the strong one and my dad made each of us feel special. He had a special something. He was short and smoked a pipe. He would to work in the fields with his wagon pulled by his two horses. There was always lunch to take him. We took turns. He would sit under a shade tree, and we’d share his lunch. He was always pleasant at lunch time. In the evenings we would eagerly run to join him and get a ride on the wagon. “It is first 1 o’clock”, meaning it was only 1 o’clock, “You Hear?”, “You all come” were some of his sayings, and I remember he scraped his peas with his knife. As I look back now, he was not a terribly ambitious man. I guess that is why he always seemed to have time for us. He considered himself quite a veterinarian and would help the other farmers with their sick animals. Mom helped neighbors when the babies were born.
My mother worked many long hard hours. She was a very clean housekeeper. She washed clothes on a scrub board. We had to take turns helping with the laundry. Washing clothes took one full day and sometimes ½ of another day. During the winter, we would hang them on the line outdoors and they would freeze solid. She raised chickens, guineas, pigs, and cows & raised a large garden. She sewed all of our curtains, bedspreads, most of our clothes, and canned 95% of our food. Much of our clothes were made from printed flour sacks. Our underclothing was made from the white flour sacks. My mother made extra money (sometimes the money was needed for absolute necessities) by selling chickens, eggs, milk, cream, and produce from the garden and making wine. I got my first “store bought” dress when I was 13. Much of my clothes had been worn by my older sisters or cousins. This was shortly after the depression and there were many poor people. I remember mom buying me a pair of black patent shoes (new) for 50 cents.
Christmas at our house was an exciting time. Since there was little money, mother made all of the food, popcorn balls, and a good Christmas dinner. We usually had some of her home made wine on Christmas day. This was only for special days. Oranges were part of our Christmas. We got them only at that time of the year. The tree was part of our Christmas surprise. Since there was no electricity in our house, mom would very carefully light the candles on the tree and we’d circle around it to sing songs.
Christmas eve we put our names on a plate and put in on the long dining room table, and off we’d be sent to bed. Santa would then fill our plates with a banana, an orange and hard candies. Behind our plate would be one special gift per person. Some years we received a pair of gloves, scarf, socks, or something extra. I remember my only doll. It was stuffed with straw and had painted socks, shoes, and hair. How I loved that doll! My dad made me a cradle for it. I can remember one year at Christmas I wet my bed. I did not have this problem, although I shared a bed with two sisters that did. When I realized that I was the one responsible, I was very ashamed. Mother explained to me that it was due to my being “over excited”. Another year my brother Bernard received a ‘BB’ gun. He accidentally shot out a window. He always seemed to get by with just a little more. Mother laughed, just slightly, because it took money to replace it. I cannot remember, even though there were ten children, any other windows being broken.
We lived about 1 ½ miles from school. It was a two room school house. Grades 1 thru 4 had one room with a sister to teach. Grades 5 thru 8 (the big room) had another sister as the teacher. Sister Veronica taught me my first four years. I can remember my first day at school. I was wandering around and visiting with my cousins. Sister told me that I would have to stay in my own seat. My classmates remained the same thru the eight years – Vincent Orf, Mary Berghoff, and Vernie Kersting.
Usually around the 2nd grade or 8 years of age, we received our First Communion. This was always treated as our special day. My mom would have our sponsors (mine were Uncle Edmond & Aunt Adele Sommer) over for the day. For my special breakfast, my mom had hot-dogs and eggs. We only had hot-dogs on special occasions. For the larger meal, we had home made chicken bouillon. I did not get to make my First Communion with my classmates. I became ill at school and Sister took me to the “Sisters House”. She put me in her bed. Later in the day after word was gotten by mouth (we had no phone) my dad came to pick me up in his wagon. There was a bed made in the back of the wagon for me. Aunt Dina Rothermich (my mom’s unmarried sister and special person) gave me my prayer book and rosary.
My teachers in the big room were Sister Paula (2 yrs) and Sister Serapia (2 yrs). Sister Serapia is still alive. I saw her when Sister Dorothy Marie died. She remembered me!
I do not recall getting less than a 90 on my papers. Twice a year, the “Mother House” in O’Fallon would send a special teacher out to test on reading, math, etc. We were given home work to do every night. One of our sisters or brothers would check us, we stayed up until we knew it. My brother Bernard and I shared the same class room thru much of our schooling. He was a whiz in school. I would worry (being a rather shy child) that I would embarrass him with my answers. My singing really made him turn his head and pretend he wasn’t related to me. We would run most of the way home from school. Bernard, being two years older, would hand me his school sack so he could challenge the other boys to race. If I complained, he’d threaten to tell on me for something stupid I had done.
Easter was also a special day. We would make our own Easter baskets out of boxes, or something we thought was pretty. It was a big religious day. We would prepare for it by doing without meat for much of the six weeks of Lent. As children, we had to give up one thing. I always gave up candy. I would put any candy I might receive from anyone into a jar and I would not eat it until after 12 o’clock noon on the day before Easter. I can remember the temptations I had to fight. A few times I ate maybe one piece. I remember how I found out there was no Easter bunny. Sister had asked me to watch the class as she said she had something to do. I thought I heard someone in the hall that separated the two rooms. It was a long dark hall with a hook on which to hang our coats. There was a shelf above this for our lunch box. When I looked down the hall I saw sister putting eggs by each lunch box. She quickly put her finger to her mouth signaling me to be quiet. That is how I put 2 and 2 together about Christmas and Easter. One Easter all of us at home but mom and dad had diphtheria. Sister Dorothy Marie was incoherent with fever. Dad would spend the day and night in the boy’s room, mom cared for us girls. We had to take teaspoons of coal oil and sugar. That year I just hugged my Easter basket as I was too sick to eat the goodies.
At Christmas, Father Schramn would gather the school children in a circle in the school play yard. He would throw pounds and pounds of nuts to us. We had to scramble for them. We used our stocking caps to gather them. Father was a very old German priest. He and my Grandma Sommer are responsible for my sister being named Hedwig. My mother had chosen another name. In my mother’s absence, they decided to record her name as Hedwig (a good old fashioned German name).
When the weather was terribly bad my dad would do what he could to help us get to and from school. I remember a sudden ice storm that came up during a school day. It was too slick for the horses. My dad met my sister Dolly, my brother Bernard, and I at the first big hill with poles that had nails driven in them to help us get up the hill. One at a time he took us up. Sometimes the branch close to the house would become too full of water for us to cross. Dad would put on his hip boots and carry us across. We knew if we needed him, dad would be there.
I saw my fist movie when I was twelve years old. Josephville was so small. It consisted of a church, a school, and one family store. There was no post office. If we wanted to go to a movie, it meant going to Wentzville. My mother thought that 12 was too young to see a movie, but my dad said he thought that it would be alright, so I was allowed to go.
My dad was the “easy one” in making decisions where we were concerned. My dad never spanked me. I did see him use the belt on my older brothers. He was hard on us where dating was concerned. My older brothers and sisters really had it hard. He had to approve their dates, no matter how old they were. Since most everybody in Josephville was related, this was somewhat of a problem. My sister Dorothy had a boy named Jimmy “call” on her. My dad thought he was a “nice boy”, although Dorothy knew differently. Dad made the young ones go to bed early so my sister could entertain him in the dining room. Jim always brought his guitar and sang songs to her. Dolly, Joan, and I would sneak out of bed and peek between the stair railings. She finally got rid of him.
On one occasion when I was 16 years old, I went to a dance in St. Paul, MO with my brother Paul. A friend, Urbie, asked me to go home with him. I said, “Yes”, since he was OK’d by my dad. After my brother had gone home, Urbie told me that he was not driving. I found out too late the driver was drunk, also I was the only girl with four guys (a definite no-no). On the way home, we were in a serious accident out on a country road with no traffic and no houses near. The driver did not make the corner and hit a bridge. The driver and all of us suffered injuries. Mine were the least severe, a sprained ankle, a cut on my face and momentarily unconscious. I wanted to go for help, but my friend insisted he go, despite an injured leg. The nearest house was a mile away. After what seemed like an eternity, help arrived. I did what I could to help the bleeding, etc. I was working at St. Anthony’s Hospital and was home for week-end. I had a little knowledge of what to do. The old farmer arrived in an old car, and I can remember him saying “We can’t go too fast over these bumps you know”. We all went to the local family doctor in Wentzville for treatment. Two people had sufficient injuries to send them to the hospital. I was told to come back the next day to be re-checked. I didn’t’ get home until 5 o’clock in the morning. During this time, I kept thinking my dad is going to really beat me. We were supposed to be, no matter what, home by midnight. Mom met me at the door. She had just gotten my brother Paul out of bed to go look for me. My friend explained to my parents that it was his fault and told them about the accident. Dad did not show anger – just concern. He told me that since I had had a bad night, I should not bother to undress, just crawl into bed and get some rest, that he would get someone to take me to the doctor later in the day. He went with me. On the way home from the doctor, my dad told me the doctor had told him that I had gone a good job in caring for the injured. He was proud of me. I could not have loved him more for understanding. I have tried to remember this in handling some incidences with you, children.
My dad never owned or drove a car. We had a one horse buggy which we used for going to church, etc. My mother would drive the buggy to church several mornings a week. My brother bought the first car in the family when I was 13.
I went to work at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Louis when I was 15. There were no jobs, other than housework, to be found in our area. Three of my cousins had gone there to work. It took me several months to talk my parents into letting me go. I was tired of no money and I wanted to earn some. I had seen my mother doing without for too long. My mother had worn the same coat for as long as I could remember. Each year she would just change the collar and cuffs and add a new flower in the lapel. Other people were getting electricity, my mom was still doing it the hard way. I thought if I could support myself it would help a little.
World War II was on. Nurses were scarce. The first three months, I worked in the diet kitchen. After that I worked as a nurse’s aide. I liked it. I worked hard, very hard. Sometimes I would work nights, sometimes evenings, and sometimes days. The hospital paid me about $35.00 a month clear, plus room and board. The nuns replaced my parents. They checked our rooms to see that we were doing our laundry, keeping our beds neat, etc. We had to sign in after 11 o’clock at night. At this time I met my friend Dolores. She is still my special friend. She and I double dated – never singly. She was with me when I met your father at age 17. Dolores, me, and two other girls had gone to the Forest Park Highlands for the evening. There was a big band playing there. Dolores and I had bought identical new dresses for the dance. We wore gloves and had our hair piled up high in a pompadour. Our dresses were black lace with a pink underslip. Your dad asked me to dance. He was in the Air Force stationed at Scott Field. He and friends had also gone to Forest Park for the evening. He stepped on my feet and apologized, saying it was his service boots he had on. I thought he was a very good looking man. Soon it was time for my friends and me to head back to the hospital. Two of us had to be at work at 11:30. Paul asked me to stay. I said “No, I’ve got to go to work.” He walked with us to catch our street car and said, “I’ll call you”. I did not believe that he thought I had to go to work and I did not believe that he would call me.
He didn’t call for a couple of weeks. Finally, the sister told me there was a phone call for me. It was your dad calling, explaining that he had been in the hospital with St. Vincent’s throat and had to have large doses of penicillin. Dolores and I being germ conscious and giggly 17 year old girls jokingly said to each other, “Oh yea, he’s in the service and probably has a social disease”. Your father and I, Dolores, and friend double dated often for the next two months. Your dad was then sent to another base and then overseas for a year. Your father and I exchanged very few letters. I dated some – among them a doctor at the hospital. This somehow seemed to be a quieting down time for me. Dolores had met her now husband and he was gone overseas. I was with her when she met him. We decided to stay in evenings, allowing ourselves an evening stroll to the ice cream parlor or fried chicken house.
My dad had gotten a job at the TNT plant in Weldon Springs. My brother also worked there and had helped my dad get his job. He carried nails, buckets of water to the workers, etc. My dad now felt that he was doing something to help in the war effort. He was making more money than he ever had. The family treat from my dad was whiting fish every pay day. Money seemed easier now. My dad bought 40 more acres. This now gave them about 88 acres. Electricity was added to our house. I would visit home on my week-ends off. I was still working at the hospital. I worked there for four years.
During this time my sister Dorothy was to be married to her husband in a big wedding in Josephville. At the last minute Joe’s leave was cancelled. Dorothy refused to let the Army stop her wedding. She called me at the hospital, asked me to go with her. We go train tickets (along with Joe’s sister) and off on a train for Austin, Texas. Dorothy wore one of my dresses to be married in. There were no hotel rooms vacant so the four of us spent the night of the wedding together in a run-down motel room. Isabelle and I returned to St. Louis. Joe and Dorothy had only a few days before he was sent overseas. It was my first trip out of Missouri.
I remember joining my dad in walking around on the farm looking for scrap metal to donate to the war effort. There was rationing of sugar, gas, silk stockings were very scarce. Shoes were scarce. When the war news would come on the radio, we were not allowed to talk. My dad would not miss one word of Gabriel Heater, a news person on the radio. My mother would not utter one complaint about shortages, she just prayed harder. My brother Bernard had joined the Marine Corps. Our neighbor boy was killed in a mine explosion. We all knew families where boys were killed, missing, or injured.
I rarely heard my parents argue. I believe they hid many differences from us. I once heard them arguing over one of my sister’s romances. My dad was unhappy over my Aunt Dina coming to live with us. My aunt’s mind was affected by a stroke. After about a year, she had to be put in a nursing home. I do not remember my Grandpa and Grandma Rothermich. I only know my mother’s home was about 2 miles from our house. I was told there was an old slave graveyard on the property.
My Grandpa Sommer died when I was about 6 years old. When visiting with my grandparents, I was shown a pair of black patent slippers that had once been my dad’s “dancing shoes”. After my grandpa’s death, grandma would come to see us for one or two months at a time. She always looked perfectly groomed. I was told that she had always enjoyed sitting in her rocker. Grandma came for a family where money was more plentiful. I remember her telling me that here were high and low Germans, she was the higher class. My sisters and I would get spankings for laughing at Grandma and her prayers which were always long and in German.
The saddest think that happened in my past was the death of my sister Dolly. Dolly was 2 years younger than I and I had always shielded her at school, etc. Once I fought with a boy, hit him with my lunch box, etc, for calling her “horse Dolly”. My sister was 19 and pregnant. They were married quickly, but my parents had to be told. There was a big scene. My mother continued to be very cool to my sister. Dolly went into convulsions in the eighth month and died. She never knew she had a baby. It happened too quickly for my mother and Dolly to repair the bridge between them. I think this cloud always hung over my mother. I wish that I could have changed this. Little Dolly (the baby) is a grown woman with two children. She is a beautiful person and we all care deeply for her.
In the town of Josephville, tongues wagged viciously over such as what happened to my sister. After this happened, I no longer felt part of my home town. I knew that I would not raise my family there. I think that I should tell you that my sister probably died as a result of complications from scarlet fever. She was very ill due to the fever, strep throat, and measles she had within a three month period. Possibly the blood clots they found in her body were due to after-effects from those illnesses. My dad blamed her death on the fact that she had been to St. Louis sometime before she became ill. He believed all germs started in the large cities.
While I’m writing about attitudes, I should tell you that my mother was the only white person to attend the burial of a black woman. Whether you were black, white, rich, or poor, God loved you all the same was what my mother told us. Whether I am prejudiced or not is my own making, I hope I’m not.
My mom and dad rarely spoke badly of anyone. The only lengthy “hard feelings” were with our neighbor Paul Orf. It seems that Paul made some comment about the number of children in the family. My dad politely informed him that since he wasn’t asking the neighbors to help him feed his family, it was none of their darn business. I do believe that my dad was on W.P.A. for a short time during the depression and he hated every minute of it. My dad died in 1958, my mom in 1967.
There are special people in my memory. Aunt Annie Haff, to whose house we went for a reunion and home made ice cream often. My Godparents, who allowed me to spend a week or two every summer. Ben Feldewert, who drove me and any others to school after I had an ankle injury. Sister Veronica, who let me be the main character in a play, put on for the community. Dolores, my very good friend, because together we managed to keep out of trouble during our teenage years. I believe that I’ve touched upon most of life prior to your dad and I being a twosome.
Your dad spent about 13 months in Germany with the occupational army. Sometime in July of 1946, I received a cablegram from him saying he would be home soon. He was discharged to his home in Michigan. He spent a month on a motorcycle trip around Michigan and then came to St. Louis for 5 weeks. He then went back to Michigan and a job. On January 12th, he returned to St. Louis to stay. He had no difficulty in finding work as a meat cutter.
We were engaged on Feb 14, 1947. We celebrated by going to a night club. It was very hard to find anything to rent, due to the number of G.I.’s being discharged and married. The larger homes in St. Louis were being divided into make-shift apartments with shared kitchens and baths. Due to this, Paul rented a bedroom from my brother Urban.
I forgot to tell you about our first meeting after over a year. Paul called me saying he was in St. Louis and would be over in one hour. I had worked the night before and was free. I called Delores, she skipped work, and together we went down to the waiting room to see him. As we walked in, there were two men in uniform sitting there. Neither of them looked like we remembered Paul. Dolores and I were talking in a loud enough voice saying the name Paul between us, hoping if it was him, he would look up. Since neither of them did, we knew he hadn’t as yet arrived. We watched the street in front of the hospital and soon spotted Paul getting off the street car. He was wearing a brown, gray, and tan business suit. He was thirty pounds heavier, but his walk was the same proud walk. Dolores ran up and gave him a kiss. Paul and I just stared at each other. From there we took the street car to a coffee shop. After that we again got on the street car and went to my brother’s house. It wasn’t until about 1 ½ hours later that we kissed in my brother’s living room. Somehow or other that kiss will never be forgotten or duplicated.
Since I worked and lived at the hospital and Paul lived with my brother, we hardly saw each other privately. On a stroll one Sunday afternoon, we saw what we believed to be an old abandoned hay barn. We thought we had found the perfect hideaway. We had just gotten comfortable in the loft when we heard someone. We looked down and saw a policeman. He asked us what we were doing there. We said we were a married couple trying to find time alone. He said you’ll have to go as this is private property. The owner had seen and reported us. No, children, nothing happened. I honestly do not know if it would have or not if the policeman hadn’t arrived.
Our wedding was planned for June 14, 1947. Neither Paul nor I could get off work until Thursday afternoon, the 12th. We went to the Court House to get our marriage license. The clerk told us there was a three day waiting period. We explained we had a big wedding planned and many people coming two days later and did not know about the waiting period. He sent us in to see the judge. The judge listened to us and said “If you promise not to come back to see me for a divorce, I’ll give you a special dispensation”. That took care of that problem.
My sister Dorothy made most of the preparations for us, the flowers, photographer, the church, etc. Lauryne Vermette came from Michigan to be a bridesmaid, my sister Dolly, my brother Bernard, my niece Jeannie Sommer, and Paul’s Army buddy John Huff from Illinois were our attendants. I wore May Jane Orfs wedding dress and a long veil with train. The men wore tuxes. We were married in the school house where I had attended school. The church has been damaged in a recent storm and the school house was being used temporarily as a church. There were only two weddings in this school house. As we left the building Paul grabbed me and kissed me. I was terribly shy and was embarrassed by this. We then headed for my home and the celebration. Paul swears that my mother took him aside and said “You’re getting a good girl, a little nervous, but be good to her.” Later in the day, Paul and I took some time for ourselves.
We spent the wedding night in the room next to my mom and dad’s bedroom. My dad made it a point to remember something he had to tell us every few minutes. I think he was just concerned for me.
As I have mentioned before, rentals were extremely hard to find in St. Louis. There would be a mad dash to check a rental in the paper only to find 6 or 8 people waiting in line for the same vacancy. Because of this, we spent the first two weeks of our marriage living in a rented bedroom. It was the middle of summer with no air and on the 2nd floor. I asked the landlady for some ice water. Her reply was “You are renting a sleeping room, not a housekeeping room.” One week of this and we had our first big argument. It was Sunday, his day off. I wanted to get out and do something. You dad wanted to lay around and read every line of the newspaper. I was so unhappy, I wanted to go home to mom (my mom would not have let me come home. She would have said, “Solve your own problems, you are a married woman now”). Somehow or other we survived and decided to move.
From there, we moved to a more pleasant rental that we were lucky to find. Only the kitchen was shared with a time designated to each couple. We lived there for three months.
About the last of September, we received word from Paul’s mother that all was not well at his home. She told him she needed him to come home. We moved to Michigan. This was the first time that I met your Grandpa and Grandma Vermette. We had some pleasant times with his dad. He liked to play croquet and was very good at it.
It soon became apparent that your grandfather was not well. His memory was not clear, he was very quarrelsome and drinking too much. He was checked by several doctors, who could not diagnose his problem. One doctor said it could be “change of life”. I moved to another house where I cared for an invalid woman for free rent. The money your dad made was needed to help his family.
It was at this time (January) I realized that I was pregnant. I decided to return to Missouri. Your father stayed in Michigan to help the family resettle. Some three months later your grandfather collapsed in a theater and was rushed to a hospital. It was at this time a tumor on his brain was discovered. He did not have much longer to live. He was 46 years old. His death left 5 children under 18 to be cared for. The tumor was cancerous. This was 35 years ago and very little was known about cancer. We then realized why his behavior was so irrational.
Your dad and I settled down to everyday living at 5153 Crittendon Ave. On July 7, 1948, Mike you were born at Faith Hospital. Dr. George delivered you. I would not let them put me to sleep (a common practice then). I did not want to miss any of the birth and I wanted to be in control. Everything was a first for me. Your dad and I felt a love for you that only a parent can feel. We were so proud that when you were 10 days old, we rented a car and headed for my mom and dads, we couldn’t wait any longer. When you were 13 months old, we bought our first house, 10604 St. Xavier Lane in St. Anne’s, Missouri. February 26, 1951, you arrived Steve. You were born at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis. Dr. Grey Jones delivered you. Your dad and I felt like the two luckiest people in the world with two healthy boys. We are now a family of four.
Soon our family was increased by Roger, John, and Dan Vermette (your uncles). There was much work to be done, and sometimes I had to ask you for extra help, Mike. You were my very dependable grocery shopper even before you went to school. Steven, that is where you had your collar bone fractured. Mike you went to kindergarten there.
When expenses became too great, we sold St. Annes. We lived in an apartment building somewhere in St. Louis for about 2 months. All that I seem to recall about that two months is that all the buildings looked alike and you two had trouble finding your apartment. The time there was so short.
The next move was to Josephville. Your uncles did not move with us. We lived a short time in the upstairs at Dorothy & Joe’s. We then shared the Schneider house with Bernard & Lucille. This is the home in which you were born, Brenda. You were delivered in the Troy Hospital, Troy MO by Dr. Mac Murry. When the doctor told me that I had a girl, I could not believe him. I asked him again “Are you sure?” We are now a family of 5. Michael went to school for a year in the same school house I attended and that your dad and I were married in.
Somewhere around the 1st of October, your dad decided that we were leaving for California. He told us one morning, the next day we were on our way. Your dad drove an old Dodge and pulled a trailer. Your Uncle Jerry went with us. Somewhere near Gallup, New Mexico, your dad stopped the car to rest under some shade trees. We all got out and had just settled down to rest, Mike & Steve to play. A horny toad ran from under a rock. This was the first time I had seen one and I thought it was a Gila Monster. That was enough, I made your dad get up and move on. Shortly thereafter the trailer turned over. We were very fortunate that your dad could do what he did and the car stayed upright. When we arrived at your Grandma Vermette’s house on Cypress and Palm Ave in Highland, Calif. we had a damaged bedroom set and no refrigerator. We lived a few houses from grandma’s for about a year. Steve, that is where we had the first “Topper”. He would tug at you and not let you go in the street or too far out of the yard. We bought our milk every day. Our meat had to be canned or bought fresh every day. You were on Pet Milk, Brenda. Somehow we managed without the refrigerator. We lived close to a small farm where they sold eggs. I’d send Mike and Steve with money for a dozen eggs. Sometimes they would give the two of you their eggs that were too little to sell.
From there we moved to Banyan Street in Rialto. That is where you were born, Alan. You were born in the Faith Hospital, the same hospital that Mike and Steve had their tonsils removed in. It was chicken pox time at home and when I brought you home, you got the very slightest case (maybe 3 or 4 spots). You had the germ so slightly that your body did not immunize against the shingles, which you later had. We are now a family of six. Perhaps you can remember a field fire that burned the Cypress tress behind our house. It was there you dad was stung by a scorpion. Wilma Cahill, Lee, and Karen lived close to us. Old man Utley lived across the street and played chess with your dad. Sometimes he would pan for gold.
Our next move was to 3528 Ferndale Ave, San Bernardino. I am sure that Mike, Steve, Brenda, and Alan remember many things about Ferndale Ave. Steve, Brenda & Alan started school there. There was Walt and Trudy next door, the Ritcheys, the Blantons, McConnells, the Hamiltons, the Jettes and others. And one other thing – that is where the last and seventh member of our family was born. You, Cindy, were born in St. Bernardine’s Hospital and delivered by Dr. E. J. Smith. A big 4 lb 13 oz girl. I did not get to bring you home to meet your brothers and sister for 5 days. Our family was now complete. We lived there 6 years. Six months later we sold the house to Danny and Gail and moved to 25563 Date St. This is the house that all of you refer to as home. We lived there for almost 14 years. Much happened there. We had many good times and a few not so good times. Cindy started Barton. You older ones went on to high school and then college. Somehow I seem to have forgotten the bad times. I am glad that we were meant to be a family unit. Our family is again growing. We have added Marlene, Randy, Jennifer, Joshua, and Mary Alice. In the future there will be more and I will welcome them. I love you family, and I am proud of each of you.
(Alice E. Vermette 1928 – 2002)