|LaVerne, in 1998, asked his mother Lois if she would write down what she remembers about her childhood. Below is her response which starts in about the year 1918.|
Well Vernie, I think this will likely read as a story because I think it’s the best way I can recount things. I’ll start with my earliest recollections, which is in Colon, I’ll cover the very little I recall of that time.
I first remember riding in a buggy, Merril was driving the horse, Lester and I’m sure Tret was there too. It was dark and I don’t know where we were going or coming from but the fireflies were flying around the horse and I was scared of them and started crying. I had to have been around 3 or 4 at the time. Merril stopped the horse and Lester caught one of the flies and cupped it in his hand to show me it was nothing to be afraid of.
I’ll tell here what I remember of the Snyder’s, which is not much. Mother’s name was Ada, she had a sister Alta and another I never knew (Olie) who married Dad’s brother, Uncle Harry and they lived in Indiana.
There was an Uncle Clem Snyder, also Rosco and Nelson. Uncle Clem worked on the railroad where he lost one eye. He married Aunt Rose, the most memorial thing about her was she had a black mustache!!! They had no children.
Uncle Rosco never married, he stayed home with Grandma.
Uncle Nelson’s wife’s name was Clive, funny name for a woman I think or maybe it was short for some thing else. They had three children as I recall, Dorothy, Margaret and a son I can’t recall his name right now. He was deformed with a hunch-back but the few times I can recall being with him, he was very much a tease and I liked him.
Aunt Alta’s married name was Johnson or Johnston, can’t remember, they had children but can’t recall how many. This is the Aunt, I think I told you, she made bread and washed her feet in the same dishpan and when dad found that out he wouldn’t eat at her house anymore.
My most remembered things of Grandma Snyder was, she had a Victrola and we girls, Tret and I, used to play her records a lot. My favorite was "Three O’clock In The Morning", I would play it over and over until she made me stop. She always had a bed of Moss Roses in the summer and I would almost drown the poor things. I thought I was helping her. She made the best big fat sugar cookies and kept them in a covered crock in the cellar way where they stayed cool. Tret and I did away with a lot of them, she would make us stop but we managed at times to sneak in the outside cellar way and get a cookie or two.
In those days the stores had Round Soda Crackers, kept in barrels and sold by the pound. Grandma always had some on hand, she would let us girls have a cup of coffee that was more milk & sugar than coffee and we would soak crackers in it and eat them by the spoons full.
The last I knew of any of the family, Margaret was still living (from Uncle Nelson family), she was near Tret’s age. Merril ran into her in Florida. They spent their winter the same place Merril & Mable did.
Tret and I would spend a week or two with Grandma Snyder every summer after Dad married the second time, until Grandma passed away. I only went back once after that, It was to one of Uncle Nelson & Aunt Clive’s anniversaries, you were a baby at that time. If we were to go there today, I could point out Grandma’s and Uncle Clem’s homes. I pointed them out to Red one time were down there.
Merril always put flowers on Mothers grave. After he passed away I took over that job. Didn’t get down there this past year.
1919 After mother passed away, Tressa and I lived with Uncle Alvin and Aunt Hazel, (one of Dads brothers) until Dad married again. I might as well tell you now what a Brat I was. I don’t know if it was resentment of not having my mama any more or if I was just plane, a brat! The latter probably.
There used to be garters that pinned to your underwear that held up your long stockings. I didn’t like them so I would take them off and manage to loose them some place. My undoing of that little trick was when I threw them down the toilet hole in the Out House. Aunt Hazel saw them, made me fish them out and wash them, so no need to say that was the end of loosing garters.
I used to wet my pants and I would have to lay across a chair with my hind side to the steam register to get my pants dried. One time (I’m not proud of this) while in this position I pooped my pants too. Uncle Alvin was working at a desk in the same room and it wasn’t long before he was asking Aunt Hazel what was burning. It ended up my butt was burning some from Uncle Alvin’s hand. Another time I messed my pants and hid them in a crate of onions in our bedroom, the onions were there because that was the coolest room in the house, got blistered again. Oh Well!! I guess I just didn’t want to take time to go to the john. Got my mouth washed out with soap for sassing the mailman.
Got thrown out of a car one time. Aunt Hazel was learning to drive, Tressa sat in the middle, Uncle Alvin by the door and me sitting on his leg next to the door. Aunt Hazel drove over the curb while turning a corner, the door flew open and I landed on the ground, no harm done. Uncle Alvin drove the rest of the way home.
Tret and I spent a week with Merril on the farm where he worked in the summer. Again, naughty me!! We were playing in the yard, I didn’t want to take time to go to the toilet so - - - I pee-ed in a dust hole made by chickens. Got caught and I found out my big brother had awful big hard hands. My butt burned good.
The only memory I have of Grandpa Sheckler (George) was him setting on the front porch one day (in BattleCreek) when I came home from school, he had a big black mustache that curled up at ends. He must have passed away shortly after that. Grandma Sheckler (Hannah) lived until some time after the folks built the house at Hutchins Lake. She lived some times in Battle Creek with Dad’s sister Hazel. They later moved up north. Grandma used to make rag rugs, I can see her sitting on Dad’s back porch at the Lake, she would be whistling away and crocheting on a rug. This was after you and Jean were born and I was carrying Arleen at the time. She and Grandpa were buried at Colon, I don’t know where. There are no head stones, I asked about that one time when I was down there. (This was because records were burned up in town hall fire. We found all stones the next year).
Uncle Bruce, Dad’s brother, lived in Petoskey. He worked at the Post Office until he retired.
Aunt Edna, one of Dad’s sisters, married and lived in Ohio. We used to see them about once a year. She would have Hay Fever so badly that they would start north when it started to bother her and would end up at Uncle Bruce’s for a time before going back to Ohio.
Hazel, another of Dad’s sisters, (there are two Hazel’s, counting Uncle Alvin’s wife), married twice, she had two children by her first husband. Don’t recall any children by the second, they lived in Traverse City until he retired, then moved to Alpine (suburb NW of G.R.), so I heard. He had a business in Traverse City.
1922 Dad was driving truck for a living. He would come to see us as often as he could. Merril and Lester worked on a farm near Colon for people that dad had known. Dad must have met Mom on one of his trips to Allegan as I recall, being said she was divorced from her first husband (who was a brother to Uncle Frank) she was working for some family in Allegan. I was about five when they married.
Creek where dad worked out of. Blanche lived with us, some
times the boys would spend some time at home, including Earl. He must
been staying with people in Allegan and working there.
One time all three of the boys were home at the same time. It was my job to see that every one had a glass of water, those darn kids, including Blanche, kept me busy getting water for them and they were enjoying all that good food while I was running back and forth getting water for them. I was beginning to think I wouldn’t get any thing to eat and must have showed it, finally Dad said "All right kids, that’s enough".
1923 While living in Battle Creek, Linn Junior was born and I started school. We lived there until Mom’s mother passed away – that would be Grandma Barnett.
1924 We moved and lived with Grandpa Barnett for a time. That was about 3 miles from Chicora. We went to school at Nobel’s school, south of where Unk-Frank lived.
1925 We then moved east of Grandpa’s about a mile to the Hamilton farm. Dad farmed there for a year or two. Lester came home to help work the farm. I remember the haying times, we kids used to play in the new hay in the barn. Then came the thrashing of the wheat – always the neighbors would bring in food and help put on the dinner for the extra man help that was needed. Mom would be baking for days ahead, Bread, Pies, Cakes, then there was chickens killed for dinner or hams baked, maybe both. When they were through at one farm the next day they moved on to another farm.
Merril came home from Colon while we lived on this farm and soon found a place to work at the McNutt’s which turned out to be his home for life.
When it was time to bring in the cows for milking at night, that was Tressa and my job. We would always get cups from the house and go to the barn for warm milk right from the cow. Linn got in on that too with his little tin cup, he was about 2 or 3 years old. His tin cup ended up in the pig pen once, crushed and put a hole in it. He was always hanging on the gate to the pig pen. One time we couldn’t find him and the pigs were out of the pen too, we finally see a towe head bobbing along at the back of the orchard. Tret went after him, when she caught up with him he was hanging on to the tail of the pigs, following them.
I remember going with Freeman Nellie Goodwin, she was one of Mom's cousin's, to Upper Scott Lake - east of Pullman, to dances. Thats where I learned to dance and I loved it. This was the same place where the scout camp used to be when you worked at Van's. The scouts used to come to Fennville for there supply of groceries, remember?
I remember Dad butchering hogs and building a fire under a huge iron kettle. When the water was hot enough and after killing and bleeding the pig, he would dip them into the kettle of hot water and shave the hair off before cutting them up. Hams from the rump and shoulder plus bacon slabs were smoked. Pork chops and steaks were trimmed of their fat, the fat taken to the house and Mom would cut them into small pieces, put them in big pans and cook the fat out by baking them in the oven. This fat was used to help preserve the chops and steaks by first frying the meat and then packing them in big crocks and pouring the fat over them as the meat was layered in the crocks. The crocks were then covered and kept in the basement where it was cold in the winters. They even made headcheese from scraps of meat and from pigs jowls. We always kept the pigs brains, Dad liked them scrambled along with eggs. All vegies and fruits were kept in the root cellar, a cold room in the basement with dirt walls and floor. They would cover the produce with straw to help keep it from freezing. Farming was a lot of hard work.
1927 Either the farming wasn’t working out or times were rough and Dad got the wander lust, anyway we moved to Grand Rapids. Blanche was married to Roy Forbes and lived there, maybe that’s what got us up to G.R.. Any way Dad found work at Consumers Power where he met Al Fellows, (remember the name?). Al had a job that would require his moving from one plant to another from time to time, i.e. Grand Rapids to Muskegon to Jackson then back to G.R.. He finally ended up in Jackson. Dad and he became quite friendly and we met his wife and two daughters.
Dad had a Ford Touring car while we lived here. One time in the summer we were going up to Petoskey to see Uncle Bruce and Aunt Eunice. The car had a rack on the running board on the driver’s side for a luggage carrier; it was packed full with things we would need including a tent Dad borrowed for us to camp out in Unks back yard. On the way, about noon we pulled off the road at a spot that looked like a lane that was not used much, it was at the edge of a woods. Dad dug a hole in the ground and built a fire in it. He put stones of good size around the hole and set a fry pan on them. We had fried potatoes, bacon and eggs, sure tasted good, but we also discovered that some how the tent we had borrowed had worked loose and was lost along the way. Because the tent was gone we had to stay in the house with Uncle Bruce when we got there and because the house was so small plus Aunt Eunice was a whinny, complaining sort of person we didn’t stay too long.
Many years beyond the time of this story, Red and I were up by Petoskey and we stopped at the post office to see if any one there could tell us if Uncle Bruce was still alive and where they lived. We found them, they were still living in the same place as before and Aunt Eunice was still whinny. We visited for a while and took off.
We lived just north of Bert and Grace Grahams, maybe you remember the name. Grace was a cousin of Mom's. There were a lot of maple trees on Bert's property and in the spring Bert would tap the trees for sap, make maple syrup and he sold quite a bit of it. At the end of the season they always had a pedro card party where Grace would always bake a bunch of biscuits and serve them with warm maple syrup - sure was good.
Bert also had quite a few head of cattle. He bottled and capped the milk and sold his milk house to house. Linn Jr. tells of the times he went with Bert to deliver the milk and in the winter, sometimes the milk would freeze, pushing the caps up with the frozen cream on top of the milk. They would cut off and eat the frozen cream and put the cap back on the bottle.
I remember one summer of our going with some friends to the South Haven Pier, fishing for perch. Dad set up a line with two fish hooks on it and baited it for Mom. She dropped it in the water and started visiting with the friend while Dad fixed a line for Junior and Me. He finally said to Mom, "why don't you pull up your line and see if you've caught a fish?", so she did and she was so excited to see that she had two fish on the line, she finally gave Dad the fish pole and just sat talking. We had two big buckets of fish when we headed home, dumped them in a wash tub with fresh water. The tub was almost full, we had a lot of fish to clean and divide them with the other couple. That was fun.
Another time, it was in the summer and we were all at Unk Franks & Aunt Eddies, Earl was there, he was always one for big cars and he had a big Hudson sports-open, and we kids wanted to go swimming. So with Dad along, it was Jim, Linn Jr., and myself heading for the lake. In those days roads were not the best - the one we had to take got to be a one track road and we had to go through a low place in the road that was covered with water and mud. We got stuck and only buried the car more with trying to get out, so Earl and Dad left us kids in the car and went to find help. They told us not to get out of the car, to stay in it, we didn't want to get out in tha muddy mess anyway. They ended up walking all the way back to Unks house before they could get any help. Must have been 5-8 miles or more. They come back with the tractor and some chain. Mean time it got dark and late, we three kids finally went to sleep. It was getting light the next morning when they got there with the tractor, finally getting the car out.
While here, we visited for a week-end with Al Fellows again, he was living in Jackson now. Al and Dad sat out on their porch, Dad playing his guitar and Al playing his mandalin. Soon the minister who lived nextdoor, came over to listen to them for a while and then asked them if they would go over to the church and play a few numbers after the evening service, so they did. The people really enjoyed that.
1932 I quit school in the 10th grade - went to Grand Rapids and got work doing house work, worked 3 or 4 different places. Met your Dad and finally married in, too young, (1934). When I found myself pregnant with you, we moved to Allegan, stayed with the folks until after you were born. Your dad got work at the County Garage through Dad and Merril. After you came we set out in a furnished apartment until we could get furniture and set up a place for our selfs.
1936 In time the county made some switches and the folks did a switch with Lee Galbreaths' family so they ended up in Fennville. Jean was born shortly after that. In time Herm, your dad, got caught with his light finger and did time in the jail in Allegan. At the same time the folks had build a house out at Hutchins Lake and I was carrying Arleen. Not being able to do very much for myself , we all moved out there with them. The men in jail had to clean up in the court house, which is just across the street from the jail, after hours. Again, while there your dad picked a check up off one of the desks and after being released from jail, forged the check and got caught again. I knew then that this would be a repeat after repeat so I filed for divorce after Arleen was born.
1939 We then moved into a cottage in front of the folks and we lived on welfare. You must remember our living by the lake. The cottage was later sold and we moved into town. Then I got to work some of the time at the canning factory.
One time while Dad worked for the county he was working with a Kat tractor south of Fennville near Bravo or Pearl. Jim Johnson, one of the muck farmers around there and in the spring of the year, got his tractor stuck in the muck. Dad was going to help him get the tractor out and ended up stuck himself. with the Kat. Of course that called for bigger equipment to get the Kat out. The guys got quite a kick from that but I think Dads face might have been a little red. I'm sure he never tried that again.
1941 During the war we moved again, and I was working in Grand Rapids again. We lived with Blanche most of the time, or so it seemed. We did have some places by our selfs like when you told the baby sitter off, then when we lived near the cookie factory where you got your fill of discarded cookies and the baby sitter burnt the toast.
1945 That brings it up to about the time you should remember most things. Like Dad bring home half a beef while being quite high; and raising turkeys and you will think of things I don't remember or even know about.
I hope you enjoy this. LOVE YA, MOM!