Home Page

7 April 2006

From Florence Torgesons Letters unless otherwise noted

There is no particular order to these excerpts at this time

     I do remember the hassle about the outhouse at home [in White City, Kansas]. So few things I remember about when my brothers were there but mother would get mad [about the state of the outdoor toilet] and they got busy. She never let that job wait until the droppings hit our bottoms like some folks did. There was always a box of lime to put down, and we had to sweep [the outhouse] out and keep it clean. They moved the building to another location close to the old spot. I never knew about winter up there taking care of that. As I remember Mother was particular about things. We had to pick up the rotten apples under the trees. I guess she wanted to keep us busy some of the time, and we had plenty of chores. (July 1979)

     Now Mother when making a quilt would cut out the blocks all boxed, etc. Not the hit and miss kind [like me] but that way.
     Read an article the other day. To conserve on fuel at the peak time. Iron in the morning and other chores before the heat of the day came and it reminded me of Mother. She would cook a kettle of the new little potatoes from the garden and then we would brown for supper as that did not take long to brown them and cook the kettle of beets as that takes time, so long to cook. Well you are doing the same thing on young cook stove [at the cabin in Maine, where the cook stove took the chill off in the morning as well.
Cooking pea soup, etc. and heat dish water and on hot summer afternoons, she would pull down the shades on the sunny side and close the back doors on the west, and we kids had to either stay in our out and no running back and forth letting in flies. An she had a pitcher of lemonade from real lemons for us to take out with us.. And our house seemed to comfortable, except was hot in bedrooms at night many times. But going back to the shady afternoons, I can remember when at other homes how hot it seemed as the kids were allowed to run in and out all afternoon. We seldom went anywhere in the afternoons as there were four of us to play together [Mae had been married and gone from home years before] and mother thought that enough. And she wanted to rest some. (July 1979)

     Up early and fortified with a bowl of oatmeal with raisins, and have just read this article about "Hot Cereal Mornings." I don't think the writer is as old as I, as some things we didn't have then, but I do remember we all ate oatmeal. Mother had a large double boiler to cook it. Dad said his mothers oats was scorched some of the times, and we always had a hot breakfast, sometimes pancakes with pork tenderloin, or bacon and eggs, and no one seemed to be picky about what was on for any morning, like kids do now. Of course always good homemade bread, oven toasted so crisp. But mush made with cornmeal is best. (March 1980)    

    This article in this mornings paper and it and others of hers brings me back to my younger days, This one about greens, mother used to cook horse radish, lambs quarters. We kids wouldnt eat them, and now we are eating all kinds of greens. I sure like beet greens. (14 May 1984)

          And I am thinking about my Mother on 4th when were all kids. She always had fried chicken (she raised chickens) and new potatoes & peas, beets and the gallon freezer of ice cream. We kids helped some by shelling peas and picking over beans, but she was the one working over a hot stove. (July 1980)

     When I was growing up my favorite piece of chicken was the wings, Dad liked back & neck, Gladys thigh, Kate legs and Mother and Bernice the white meat, always fried two chickens as we raised them, and my job was to cut up chickens and also pick off feathers after I was half way grown up. (July 1980)

     The Native article [I don't know what magazine or article she is referring to] was interesting and I had recently read that Harpers Bazaar as it was called years ago had folded up as so may of our magazines from the past have. Sat Evening Post, Life, etc. And I remember about how Mother wanted us to have good things to read but could not afford many magazines then. She got us "Youths Companion" and there was a small magazine something like Readers Digest called Path Finder" and later there was "Delineator and Ladies Home Journal, maybe someone would hand down to us and I was so eager to read. (July 1980)

     I shall always remember a good friend that ran the Hotel there in WC. She was good to so many folks. She called me in one day when I passed by and asked me if I would like some magazines to read and keep but I would have to bring our little wagon (We had one for groceries) as too heavy to carry so many magazines, so I was sure glad to have a chance to get them. There was two years of them and I was so excited as there was two numbers of DEC and Christmas stories and ideas how to make little gifts out of those Dec numbers. What a wealth of reading and advertising was interesting also. (July 1980?)

      This picture reminds me of a swing in our front yard in my childhood days, only ours didn't have a top of it, and how we loved that swing, and in back yard under a large tree were two rope swings with a swing board seat in it. (July 1980)

         And it seems lately that certain things I read remind me of that subject in my younger years in W. C. [White City] and reading about wheat. Occasionally Mother's bread wasn't up to standard and Dad was never the kind of person to criticize food, but he would say, "What happened to the bread this time." and she would say, It must be the flour, as flour was better with some age to it.
     The first year Day and I were married we lived next door to a middle age couple  and their married daughter & little girl lived with them. The father was killed in some kind of accident, so the daughter worked at the flour mill where she tested and weighed flour and baked a loaf every day, and they would bring us a loaf. The flour was called "White Loaf" and it was the top brand. I remember using it.
      When my Dad worked at grain store, we kids liked to jump in the wheat bins, only 2 at a time but not often if Dad caught us, and we would chew on it.
     And then while on Nature subjects. in Aug, we called them dog days when winds would be so hot, and Dad would worry so about the corn crops. And he would be so tired and face dirty from helping shovel grain in bins in their store house. Lots of times he would come home late to supper but we would eat without him and I am sure that was more restful for him also. So ever generation has their hang-ups. Storms, etc to battle, and the the good times too. (August 1980)

      I thought of an old scrub plum tree by our wind mill, that when in bloom the bees were thick on it. There was an old was tub, had been  washing machine and had a wooden stopper in it and one day, some kids and I were around close and the stopper was full of bees and the only brave thing I did when young. I took hold of that stopper on one end where no bees and pulled it out, bees just held on and the kids were amazed. I knew they wouldn't bother me as have had them crawl on me. (May 1981)

    Recd such a nice letter from you so will answer your questions about the two little sisters. One of the sisters died of a ruptured appendix and the other of typhoid fever. The next year I had typhoid fever and out was touch and go for a while with me. The first solid meal I had was 3 t cream of wheat. I remember that and I cried for more, but Dr.'s orders not as been on liquids for so long. The doctor said the drainage [in the yard] was bad not far from the well, as stock was close or some such deal, so mother saw to it that it was taken care of. Even the first yrs of married life when I would go to Dr for some ailment he would ask if I ever had the fever. And once in a while when I was growing up after the big hurt of losing the girls, mother had said Millie was like and angel, almost to good to live. She was orderly and would pick up every little raveling from mother's sewing, and quiet. Back to me. I lost all my hair but it came back quickly for school the next fall. Short and curly. I don't know where the picture was taken [of the two little sisters, apparently] but it seems odd they, the folks hadn't them in a picture as most of us had a picture [taken] during our younger years and I never heard Mae [her older sister, Mae (Torgeson) Christensen] talk about the sisters. She was home until I was 10. It may be folks didn't talk about things like they do now. Maybe bottled up their grief. (February 1983)

      Am doing a little family research stuff. As I was straightening up the box in the closet of picture, etc and this little enclosed envelope]  has always intrigued me as a girl growing up. ] It was in a little drawer on side of a dresser. You know the kind that has the two little drawers on each side of a mirror. Well, may times when mother was gone I would go in her room and look at this envelope contents, a little ring, a party invitation and the 2 pictures, and someone has the ring and invitations. but want you to look it over. [I don't remember ever seeing those pictures, but would love to have had.] I have spent the day thinking about those little sisters and I don't remember them. Mother has told us about them. I have one thing straightened out. Have always thought Millie was the older, but it was Merle and she died very young, two years old, while Millie was 7. And I remember mother telling what a good child it was and would be so neat and no doubt she was also missed her more 2 year old Merle. And I see Kate was born Dec 29, 1900 which was only 3 months after Merle died. How mother ever got through two babies deaths and 2 miscarriages and live as long as she did and have a good mind until she died. And I thinking of all the happy times I have had with all my sisters, all those reunions etc. Am so glad both of you like history and can share with you, mine. [Millie was the next sister older to Florence and Merle was the next sister younger. It must have been hard for her to having both sisters next to her die.  This is the first time I remember her saying that her mother had two miscarriages, making it nine pregnancies in all. I don't recall seeing the two pictures that she mentioned and would love to see what those little girls looked like.]
     In your last letter you mentioned maybe a [heat] register cut in floor for upstairs would help heat up a room. [At this time we lived in an old 1775 log house with a c1790 brick addition. It had an antiquated heating system.] We had one in W.[hite] C.[ity] home. It was over the dining room and into my parents bedroom. The heater was going in dining room all the time and real cold weather we kept the living room door shut. It made that bedroom cozy. We used to envy the folks having that room, they would shut that room up during the day, and is was cozy there. They would shut the register off at night, except when we had dates. we used to hear it open, as part of we couples sat in that room. Sometimes there were three of us dating at the same time. [Florence, Kate, and Gladys] Our bedrooms were sure icy. We wore long underwear and flannel gowns and blankets and I was still cold. Would take a heated brick wrapped in piece of blanket to bed. We had lots of covers but they were so heavy. (February 1983)

    Have been lying down on bed, trying to take a nap, but no sleep came and I got up thinking abut hot afternoons when I was growing up. We called August dog days, dont know what they meant, seems as though we associated Aug. as the hottest summer month. Mother would dry the shades [on windows[ on the sunny side of house and we kids had to stay in or out during the middle of afternoon as Mother didnt want the screen door open and shut so much and let the flies in. She would make us a pitcher of lemonade and we would take it and sit in the shade of an apple tree, and late summer apples called Maiden Blush. which was yellow and so sweet. They have ripened in late July. We went barefoot all summer, wore shoes on Sun. Not ear as cool as under the apple tree, and then as we grew older she bought us one of those double swings, a seat facing the other and we enjoyed that and always had swings under some bug tree. She wanted us to stay home since there were 4 of us. Mae was too old to play with us, and if we went out in sun to go to well or toilet hot afternoons we had to put our sunbonnets on, and I can see now that she wanted us to keep well. She did not know then that being exposed to hot sun for a period of any length caused skin problems etc.
     Dad did not raise watermelons but he would bring one home, from some farmer wagon, and we would leave it out on north side of house in grass & dew and it would get cooled off. Then sometimes would set it in a tub of cold well water, how we lived watermelon. We had one cherry tree. maybe more, and it had such good cherries, and I was picking one morning and a large bull [black?] snake was lying on one of the branches, so I have never been fond of cherries, and I was scared to go pick after that but mother made me do it. She had to kill the snake and she didnt like to do that but it had to be done. (July 1983)

    And I told them about my 4th of Julys. We 4 sisters each had a 5c pkg of fire crackers, which we shot off first thing in the morn, then took the red wagon over to the ice house across the st from us to get ice for making the ice cream. And our noon dinner was fried chicken (we raised the chickens) new potatoes and peas, beets, etc and we thought it a wonderful day.
     One thing I got on a 4th of July was a card from my cousin Ruth, and I have never seen a Fourth of July card since and wonder about Halls Marks not getting wise to that, they make plates and paper napkins for that date. This card of mine had a little girl on it and a fire cracker as tall as she with the words "Go off with me on the Fourth." I wish I had that card now, and it was the first card I ever received through the mail.   One 4th of July after Mae was married she and Bob drove down for the day and for a treat he brot a freezer of store ice cream, it was a large one too, and he said we had to eat it up before they went back home in late afternoon. We were excited about it, but go over it having to keep eating it, no way to freeze it like now. (July 1983)

     Going back to 4th of July, when I was at home in W.C. Bob & Mae came [from Junction City] for the day and brot a large freezer of ice cream (commercial kind) which was a treat for we kids as we so seldom had store kind as mother made ours. Well we had big helpings at noon after a big dinner of fried chicken etc, and then another helping mid afternoon and Bob told us we had to finish it up as he had to take the freezer back to the ice cream pace. Well we got our fill that day of ice cream as had no refrigerator then to keep left over ice cream, so 4th of July was one of our favorite holidays. Mother always made a freezer of ice cream. We went over to an ice house close by, in sort of a barn, men hauled in river ice and had it covered with saw dust to keep frozen and it was fun to go in ice house as was so col. Mother warned us not to eat any ice as was full of germs from the river. (12 July 1984)

     When I was in the grades [grade school]  we would have elections at school, and only Democrats was a boy in my class and I, and I used to wish just once I could brag, and so after I was in H. S. or rather the year I graduated Wilson became pres. and my Dad got the Po. [Post Office  at White City, Kansas]  because of that and he had it for 8 yrs and was a good paying job for him and a challenge for a man like him that had no schooling only grades and I don't know how far he got, but he made a good living with this job, and that was exciting. The only way we could hear reports was over phones and newspapers. (August 1980)

     When I was young they didn't wrap Christmas gifts just hung them on the tree as is, and I remember after Mae was married, I was 10 yrs then and the first Christmas she came home, I looked in her suitcase, when no one was around. I knew somehow she would have hair ribbons and I wanted to see what color mine was. There was ribbons for all we sisters and all i one box with our names on them. And mine was the color I liked so well. (December 1982)

    The article about greens reminded me of the time mother had a Bridal Brunch for me announcing my engagement. This was Aug. 1st and she wouldnt tell me what she was going to serve, and I cant remember what she had but for something to put the salad on (our garden lettuce all gone) but she used the tops of carrots for greenery, and she made a pretty deal to put, I think it was jello salad, on it. We kids never ate greens she cooked, like horse radish, lambs quarter etc, one of our wealthy women in W. C. [White City, Kansas] when she had club in winter time she would call to Herrington, a larger town and have them send lettuce on morning train, for any luncheon etc. she had. Her daughter was one of my best friends and I loved staying all nite there. She had a bedroom all to herself, a fireplace, blue wall paper & white painted wood work. We didn't have room for a nite guest. [Undated]

   The article  about snakes in orchard reminds me of twice I had experience of picking cherries and a big old bull [black?] snake laying across the limb. Poor mother had a horror of snakes also but she was brave and would get the hoe and kill it, and I went in fear every summer, as she would make me pick the cherries and sisters would help also, but going to privy and looking down and laying across a wooden beam was a snake, and I still feel the same fright in any outdoor one, but I can't help it. Jenays little girls touched a snake out to zoo, but I never told them how scared I am of one and the next phobia was tomato worms, the big kind that climb to the limbs, dont think they are on them much anymore. (March 1981)

    I have finished reading "The Lord God Made them all" Harriots last book, quite interesting, and now have read them all, and still wouldnt like a vets life. I saw quite a bit of animal life when I was young. When I was young one time coming home from school I saw a calf half born, our side walk from school was across the road and there was where the barn was, and the cow. [I don't know whether or not it was the Torgeson's barn.] And I woudnt eat oatmeal for a long time as I didnt want to have milk on anything. Mother never noticed that I didnt with so many kids around the table, how could she, she didnt eat breakfast wit us. Then I got over that and another time , was evening, and Dad came in with arms &hands covered with blood, and he told mother he had to help deliver the calf. She didnt see me there and again I went without milk on things, so I wouldnt make a good farmers wife. The  when little chickens hatched during a snow storm, she would bring them in to cookstove oven, and the feathers sure did smell as they were wet. (March 1982)

     It's been hard for Kansas to have a Democrat Gov. but in later years we have had several. When I was in the grades [grade school]  we would have elections at school, and only Democrats was a boy in my class and I, and I used to wish just once I could brag, and so after I was in H. S. or rather the year I graduated Wilson became pres. and my Dad got the Po. [Post Office  at White City, Kansas]  because of that and he had it for 8 yrs and was a good paying job for him and a challenge for a man like him that had no schooling only grades and I don't know how far he got, but he made a good living with this job, and that was exciting. The only way we could hear reports was over phones and newspapers.
     So I had to go from H School into training in P.O. and there was so much to learn. Was more to it than putting mail in boxes. There were 4 rural carriers and then first W War started and thaw was a busy time for everyone. Made mail very heavy with overseas mail etc. and women got busy with knitting and canning classes etc, and we had to finger print all Germans in town and farms and a lot of red tape  going on and there were Red Cross classes, but a good thing for women in small towns to have an outlet from their home life, mingle  with people. (August 1980)

        In my last letter about dates I left out our reunions [with her sisters] started. The night before Mothers funeral all we girls [five] were up to Maes and were sitting at table talking and Bernice said, 'Now lets dont drift apart. Lets get together every Oct for a Reunion." And we drew names, and poor Gladys drew for the first one. She was always a little uptight about company for any length of time, was the cooking that bothered her, but that first Reunion 28 years ago [1953]was wonderful. She had games for us to play and just all to be together for a whole week was really something, and so no we have added Zita [sister Kate's son, Frances Schump's wife] and Charlotte [sister Kate's daughter] and still had ones after [sister] Gladys] left, only they have been in the summer when Charlotte was closer. (September 1981)

      Am thinking about Labor Days in past, the colo]rado] peaches came in around that times and I made a jam that was pretty and colorful. Was peaches and ground up oranges and marchino cherries (now taboo on account of coloring) you called it Halloween jam as so orange color. And the white clematis and trellis was always in full bloom that day. (July 1981)