I Remember…

I don’t have very many memories from my early childhood, only a few outstanding ones.  The first memory I have is when I was three years old. We lived in Waterloo, Iowa and someone gave me a live, white bunny! I loved my bunny! I carried him all around. I don’t remember putting him down but I’m sure I did at meal times and bed time. I didn’t have him long though because one morning when I went to get him he had died during the night! I cried and cried and cried.          doc file Anita  I don’t know how old I am in this picture but I think I look about three. I’m adding it because I’ve been told I cried no matter what they did to make me smile! So they covered my mother with a blanket and I’m sitting on her lap! But I don’t remember it!

One day I fell going up the steps to the front porch. I bit my tongue. It was a bad bite and it bled and bled. It’s strange I don’t remember it because Mother has told how badly I hurt and bled. I still have the cut on my tongue after all these years! So I know it happened but I don’t remember it!

Another memory was one evening my parents had to go somewhere so a friend came to stay with us kids. I remember we took all the cushions off the sofa and chairs and made a playhouse! I think Mother probably wouldn’t allow us to make such a mess in the living room but Daddy’s friend played along with us! We had such fun!

I remember being introduced to some friends of my dad. I must have been about four. I’ve always remembered the look of pride on my dad’s face as he said, “This is Anita, my little daughter!”

I can still hear my Great-Aunt Ina reciting “O Captain, My Captain.” She put such expression into it! But I didn’t know where we were when she recited it until just a few years ago my sister told me she and another great-aunt had come to visit us in Des Moines for a couple of weeks. I don’t remember that! I must have been about four.

Anita Flower Girl, 4 yrs.

Anita, the flower girl with a bow.

I was four when I was a flower girl. That was a mighty important occasion for me! Do I remember it? NO! I remember being told about it but I don’t have any memories of the day or of the experience!

I remember my sister, Lorraine, playing school with Mother’s spice cans and buttons from Mother’s button can! I can even see her!

I could tell you lots of stories from my early childhood but they’d be stories that have been told to me. I started school in Des Moines but I don’t remember it! I’ve written lots of stories from my childhood so I don’t think I’ll repeat them here. If you’re a reader of my blog you’ve probably read them!

My memory opened up when we made our big move to Covington, Oklahoma! It was the summer of 1946. A big moving van moved our furniture. And my mind opened up! The moving van was Kessell’s Moving Van with a slogan written on the truck: Don’t Cuss…Call Us! We were a family that didn’t even use slang words!  The driver’s wife rode with him, they were a very kind and friendly couple!

What about you? When did your memory wake up? I think my memory was rather lazy in my early years! But I have really enjoyed all the stories my family has told me!

 

 

Eureka Country School

Eureka School, Fremont Township, Buchanan County, Iowa. This is the school my dad, Glen Williamson, attended for the first four and a half years of his education, from kindergarten to the second half of fourth grade! All seven children in Andrew and Rose Williamson’s family attended this school! And in fact, Andrew attended Eureka School in his childhood!Scan_Pic0032

Bessie, Floyd, Eva. Claude, Rose, Roy, Andrew,  Lewis is sitting, between Rose and Andrew. Glen had not been born yet or even expected! Eva & Glen

This picture is Eva and Glen about the time Glen would have started school.

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I think these pictures of Eureka School were taken in about 1948. The school building is being moved to a new location, that’s why it looks the way it does where there should be a foundation. I just wish I knew where it was moved to! Is it at a museum now? A museum would be the ideal location for this school!

DocFile (2) Left to right are: Glen, Floyd, Lewis, and Roy Williamson. Four brothers who all attended this school as children. There was one more brother, Claude, who also attended school here but he died as a young man, August 31, 1924. Claude was between Roy and Lewis in age. Bessie and Eva, the two girls in the family also attended school here!

This little document from Eureka School was a precious gift to me, given by my second cousin, Kay Hoffman, granddaughter of Bessie. It’s from the school year of 1902 and 1903. Julia G. Sowles was the teacher.

The president of the board was Andrew Williamson, my grandfather, who attended Eureka School as a child!  I assume Andrew’s brother, William, and sister, Jane, also attended here.

Eureka School was a good school! Here’s a short story my dad, Glen Williamson, wrote about the school, his teacher, and himself, at the time he attended school in Manchester.File Doc 3  This was taken from the book Corina/Glen Tracing Our Roots by Glen Williamson.

So there is some of the history of Eureka School, in Buchanan County, Iowa., where my dad and all his family began their education.

Manchester, Iowa Is In My Roots

Manchester, Iowa is on highway 20 halfway between Waterloo and Dubuque. It’s a lovely town in the county of Delaware and has very special meaning to me. Population: 5,053 (2016). Please read on…!        .

On June 27, 2018 Todd Piro a correspondent from Fox and Friends stopped in to Jude’s Cafe on Main Street in Manchester, Iowa! He visited with some of the men eating breakfast and drinking coffee! It was broadcast on Fox and Friends!

Jerry and I were watching Fox and Friends, as we do every morning! Imagine our surprise when this segment came on. Oh, are you wondering why it was actually exciting to us?

My dad, Glen Williamson, grew up in Manchester, Iowa! Dad was the youngest of seven children and was born on the family farm near Masonville, Iowa. When dad was nine years old, his dad, my grandfather, Andrew Williamson, retired at age 59 from farming. Andrew and Rose bought a lot, at 152 Gay Street in Manchester, where Andrew, built a house for them! They moved in on February 4, 1920. Dad was 10 and the only child still living at home. He built a large enough house for the rest of the children to know they could always come home and especially for holidays.                                                                                                Scan_Pic0006

That’s Grandma and Grandpa Williamson on the steps of the front porch,  in their old age. Grandpa died in 1942. Grandma died in 1948. The last time I was in Manchester the house was still there on Gay Street. Their car, a 1916 Saxon is parked in the driveway! He bought it new and never bought another car!

Dad had gone to the one room school house, through half of fourth grade, that all of his brothers and sisters had attended. But now he was enrolled in Manchester Elementary School. He was in fourth grade. He did well in school and was the only child in the family to attend and graduate from high school! Scan_Pic0011

This is a picture of Manchester High that Dad attended and graduated from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the end of Dad’s Manchester days except to return to visit. But later Dad’s sister and brother-in-law, Bessie and Earnie retired from farming and moved to Manchester. We visited them several times. They lived very close to Main Street in a lovely home.

Bessie & Earnie                                    Aunt Bessie lived to be 102 years old! When she was 100 years a party was held for her at the Good Neighbor Nursing Home in Manchester where she then lived. What a wonderful party it was! Relatives and friends came from California, Iowa, Michigan, Washington, Illinois, Colorado, Arkansas, Minnesota and Saskatchewan, Canada all to honor my Aunt Bessie! This is a snapshot of Aunt Bessie and me at her birthday party. There were lots of pictures taken.  Bessie & me         DocFile (2)  She received this birthday letter from Willard Scott on the Today Show at NBC News.  Aunt Bessie lived for just over another two years.                                                                                      Uncle Earnie and Aunt Bessie are both buried in Manchester Cemetery along with their son, my cousin, Fred. Bessie & Earnie graveFred Sommer grave                                                                                             So you can see Manchester, Iowa means a lot to me and that’s why I got so excited when Fox and Friends featured Manchester, Iowa on their show! If you’re ever in Iowa it’s a great little town!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ring…Ring…Hello?

Telephone. A luxury I’ve had for most of my life. Telephones have come a long way! Let me begin by retelling my dad’s exciting telephone experience.

Dad was born in 1909. His family had their first telephone. They were on a party line, of course. The number of rings had to be counted to know when an incoming call was for them! I don’t know how many rings meant a call for them.

Eight long rings meant important news was being broadcast across the party line!               In 1918 good news came across the wires telling families World War I had ended!

July 5, 1919, there came eight lon-n-ng rings again! This time to tell everyone to look in the sky, south. There my dad and others in the family had their first sighting of an airplane, just a tiny speck, moving steadily along!

Dad’s sister, Bessie, was seventeen years older than Dad! She went to school through eighth grade, then she got a job as a telephone operator until her marriage to her young boyfriend, Earnie!  619px-texasrichardson_telephoneexchangeoperator-2 This isn’t a picture of Aunt Bessie but I imagine she looked something like this on the job!

An early telephone.antique-telephone-1-2

The first telephone below was in the farmhouse where my mother grew up in northern Iowa! It is now in my brother’s kitchen. The board on the box at the bottom has been replaced, as you can see. But my mother remembered the phone well from when she was just a girl. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   momonoldtelephone3-16-08   This is Mother, in her old age, pretending like she listening to someone on the phone of her youth!antique-telephone-in-georgia-2  This phone is in the history building in Winder, Georgia! I was given permission to post it here.

When I was a little girl, we had a phone most of the time. When Dad was a pastor, he needed a phone. Many emergency calls came to him. Black phone (2)  Some years he traveled and my parents couldn’t afford a telephone!

Jerry and I were married in 1959. We had a phone like the one in this latest picture. It started out being a party line with eight people on our line. It was very soon cut down to four people…then later, two people. We were very conservative. Long distance calls were made very seldom. Of course, when we had a new baby, calls were made to spread the news!  I’ll never forget the day Jerry told me, in the early 70’s, that I should start calling my parents once a month and have a nice visit with them! So I did! Black phone (2)  In the eighties, we finally got a private line! It was wonderful! Calling became normal and usual. With five children, how could it not!

I was hired by the school system to call the substitute teachers for the secondary schools in our city. A new private phone was installed in my kitchen! Blue telephone  It was very similar to this one! Yes, I picked out a blue one to go with my kitchen! The big difference of this picture is that my new school phone had push button numbers instead of a dial! I loved it. But, it was for school calls and paid for by the school system so our family still used the old black phone, most of the time. There were exceptions!

When we built our new log home twenty years ago in 1997 we bought a new phone with an answering machine! Oh yes! I wish I had a picture of it! We didn’t have to miss any messages! We also bought an old looking phone and hung on the wall in the kitchen. It worked but, of course, not anymore. new-old-phone-2  Now it just looks old-fashioned!

All this to bring us to today! Of course, businesses still have telephones and a few people still have a land line with a phone connected.

We don’t. We have our cell phones. But even so we’re not up-to-date! Jerry still has his flip-phone! jerry-on-phone-2 He says it works fine. I have my iphone. img_0052-4  What a difference in telephones today! I have instant access with anyone anywhere! I can text or message or talk at any hour of the day or night. My daughter, in Ireland, and I message or talk to each other whenever we want to! It sounds like she’s next door! I have friends all over the world and it’s wonderful to be in contact with them! My phone gives me the weather anywhere in the world, instantly! International and national news comes over my iphone! Pictures? My phone has a camera and I can even edit my pictures before I post them! I carry my phone with me all the time. I charge it at night while I’m sleeping.

This morning one of my sons called so we facetimed! That means we are both on a camera so we could see each other as we talked! Wonderful!

But back in about the seventies, a prediction was made that in the future we’d be able to talk on our phones–live! Oh, no, I thought! What if my house was messy! What if I looked bad, like I wasn’t dressed up! My hair might be a mess! I thought it was a bad idea! But the prediction came true and I love it! I love facetiming with my grandchildren and my children and even friends!

Yes, the telephone has come a long way from when it was first invented! But we still answer with “Hello?”

 

 

 

 

Growing Up…White

In 1944 to 1946, I began my education in Des Moines, Iowa  at Nash Elementary and Kirkwood Elementary. The schools I attended were racially mixed. Race meant nothing to me. I played with anyone who would play with me.

I was raised in Iowa, except for three years, 1946 to 1949, when we lived in Oklahoma and Illinois. It’s interesting how impressions are made on children. Because I’m writing about the 1940’s and ’50’s I’ll use the word, Negro, rather than Black.

When we moved to Oklahoma, we lived in a town that was all white. I remember seeing a negro man walking along the railroad tracks one day. The thought that came to my mind was, he’d better keep walking because negro people can’t be in this town! If he wants to sleep overnight, he’ll have to sleep in the jail!  What a thought for a little child. What a thought to remain in my mind after all these years! Anita 1947

We moved back to Des Moines and for 8th and 9th grades I attended Washington Irving Jr. High. I have many memories of my two years there. There were many, many negro students. I don’t remember any negro teachers.

I wasn’t very athletic so gym days were tough for me. I couldn’t serve a volleyball and get it over the net… My hands stung every time I tried to hit the ball back over the net. One day a girl, who was getting very aggravated with me, yelled, “Niger”, at me! I couldn’t believe it…she was a negro! Later we became good friends.

A negro boy in my homeroom was named Matthew. I’d never heard of anyone named Matthew. I thought it was interesting his mother named him a Bible name! Today it’s a common name…I have a fine grandson named Matthew!

I had a very long way to walk to and from school. One day as I was walking alone, one of my classmates, who was also walking alone, caught up with me. We started talking as we walked. We enjoyed each other’s company and laughed a lot.

We were walking down a very busy street. All of a sudden, a car veered and nearly lost control. We jumped quickly, staring at the car. The driver caught my eye. He was staring, in disbelief, at me! Oh my goodness, we’d nearly caused an accident! Yes, my friend was a negro boy! So what! We were friends…simply that, friends. And good friends, at that! We continued walking together until we came to where he had to turn the corner but our mood had changed. We said good-bye. We were still friends but we never walked together again. I felt bad then and I still do today.

These are just a couple of memories I have of growing up white in a country of both whites and blacks. I have lots more, but these stand out in my mind.

Years later, I understood why I had such a feeling of comradeship with my black friends. My parents, though never saying so, had the feeling of equality with black people and had always encouraged me in this way. But it was more than that. My dad became Director of Interracial Evangelism, in the 1960’s, in our denomination, Free Methodist Church of North America. I was so proud of him then and still am. What a legacy my parents gave me.

 

 

 

Cousin LJ

I was a little girl when I first got to know my cousin, LJ. He was already a man. I probably saw him before he was married, but I don’t remember. I do remember his brown, thick, wavy hair!

LJ was in World War ll. Scan_Pic0054  Thanks, LJ!

I do remember him after he was married. We were living in Oklahoma and were visiting family in Iowa. LJ and Ermadel were newly-weds. My mother, being a wise and patient woman, talked to us children, before we arrived at our grandparents house: “LJ’s wife has a birthmark on her face. You’re not to stare at her. You’re not to ask what it is. LJ loves her and the mark doesn’t matter to him. So just remember that when you see her.  She’s a wonderful person.”

I learned two things that day. 1.)  I learned what a good man LJ was! He loved Ermadel for who she was and probably didn’t even see the flaw on her face, even though he knew it was there. 2.)  I learned what a loving and wise person my mother was! Preparing us ahead of time saved a lot of nervous embarrassment for LJ and Ermadel, and for us.

There is something else I’ve always remembered about LJ. He always smiled at me with a tender, loving smile! When I think back, all those years ago, that’s the main thought that comes to me! I would shyly smile back. Today, I think he probably was thinking and hoping for a little girl to be born to him and Ermadel! A few years later, Iris, and then Keith were born to them. I think LJ and Ermadel must have been very loving parents!

LJ’s dad and my dad were brothers, making LJ and me cousins.

My parents became born-again Christians when I was about two years old. They were the only ones born again in both of their families and were very often ridiculed by their siblings. But in 1948 LJ made a life-changing decision to live for Christ. A special bond was formed between LJ and my dad.

Years went by and LJ and I hardly had contact with each other, but being cousins, we still had that bond between us. A couple of years ago another cousin, Erma, died, and my daughter and son-in-law, Pam and Gene, drove Jerry and me to Iowa to attend her funeral. Who else was there? LJ with his daughter, Iris. We’d not seen each other in years!

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Then last year we had a cousins reunion in Iowa. LJ and I had a time, just for the two of us, to visit and reminisce about our lives. I told him about his smiles when I was a little girl and how much they meant to me. He didn’t even remember! But I do! FullSizeRender (78)  I took this picture of him during our little visit. He was 90 years old!

There was a sign on his door of the nursing home he was living in. LJ's door sign  I was surprised to see the date of when he was born-again! I don’t know why I was surprised…after all, that’s the most important date in a Christian’s life! LJ died on November 23, 2015 at age 91. I’ll see him again…some day!

This is a picture of LJ and Ermadel when they were married 50 years. LJ & Ermadel 56 years

 

 

Mother’s English China

Back in about 1952 Dad bought and sent a beautiful set of English China dishes to Mother. We lived in Elk Run Heights, a sub burg of Waterloo, Iowa. Dad, as an evangelist, was traveling, as usual. He was in eastern Canada and had been looking for just the right set of dishes to buy and send to her. He finally found it!

I’ll never forget the day several large boxes arrived in the mail. We were both so excited! It was like Christmas day to us! Mother and I carefully unpacked the boxes. Only one cup was cracked and later it was replaced.

Mother was a beautiful hostess. Between graduating from high school and marrying my dad she had worked for a very prominent family in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. There she learned how to be a proper hostess. She said at the time she never dreamed that knowledge would be so important to her later on in life!

Being the wife of a pastor, an evangelist, an executive, a conference superintendent, and more, she had entertained many important and influential men and women. Bishops, missionaries, pastors, evangelists, college presidents, professors, the list goes on and on! Her beautiful set of English China was well used!

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Table set with Mother’s English China.

We were visiting Mother and Dad, at Warm Beach Retirement Center, in Washington, in about 1994. Mother surprised me when she said she’d like to give her set of English China to me and that we should take the set home with us! Oh, I didn’t know what to say! I was thrilled that she wanted me to have them, but how could I take them? Maybe she would need them again! Why not wait a few more years? But she insisted I take them when we left back to Michigan. So Mother and I carefully packed the dishes into a couple of sturdy boxes. English China 1

I treasure Mother’s English China! On the bottom of each piece is the name and location where they were made. I can’t read the whole thing, but I can see ‘Simpsons… Cobridge, England’. I only use them on very special occasions. Today was one of those occasions! We invited our new lead pastor and wife, Pastor Gene and Lois, for dinner! As we all sat down at the table Pastor Gene exclaimed, “Oh my, what beautiful dishes! Are these special?”

So I had the joy of telling them about Mother’s English China and my joy to be serving dinner with them.  I told them of all the important people who had eaten from them and now they were among the important folks also! It was a wonderful evening!