S: Flora Mohrine Comstock
FC: Flora Mohrine Comstock | My Life April 23, 1915 - October 13, 2011
2: I was born in Guthrie Center, Iowa about seventy miles north west of Des Moines. My Mother, Hazel Juanita Anderson, was from Scotch Irish stock and the first Andersons settled in Maryland in 1671 and branched out from there. My grandfather Lewis was born in Ohio and went to Iowa where all of his children were born. He married Luanna Rutledge who was a cousin to Ann Rutledge (Abraham Lincoln’s friend). My father’s, Monroe La Verne Lower, ancestors were Pennsylvania Dutch and came to Iowa in the 1800’s.
3: Great Grandparents | Grandparents | Parents | William E Lower Dec 1859-Jul 1919 | Flora O Mohr Aug 1861 - Nov 1945 | Lewis Humprey Anderson Jan 1861 - Jul 1942 | Luann Rutledge Jan 1866 - July 1937 | Samuel Mohr 1831 - 1897 | Margaret Culp 1834 - 1882 | Samuel Lower 1807 - 1884 | Sarah Irwin 1832 - 1916 | Humphrey Anderson 1836 - 1906 | Frances Brown 1841 - 1878 | Thomas Rutledge 1839 - 1918 | Martha Stephenson 1842 - 1919 | Monroe Lower May 1887 - May 1937 | Hazel Juanita Anderson Feb 1890 - abt 1965
4: Dad married Mom in 1908 and my oldest sister, Maxine, was born in 1910 and me later in 1915. I had three other sisters, Ellione, Elaine and LaVonne. I did not learn to like my oldest sister until she was married with children as she was mean to me. I was always a brat to her, but my other sisters and I got along great. In 1919 my folks moved to Montana where the grazing land had been plowed up and the crops were great, but it did not take long for the land to be used up. If it wasn’t for drought, it was grasshoppers or hail; and the banks ended up owning all the farms around. That is when my father took up the ministry and moved to Judith Gap. Our life on the farm had lots of wonderful memories. Our family was lucky, none of us died during the flu epidemic. My mother always said it was the “musterole” that saved us. The folks brought two wonderful teams plus an Arab white five-gaited horse named Pet. Dad bred Pet and Monte was born. Because no one trained him, he had a gait that was a mix-up of the five gaits. As Dad had chronic appendicitis and could not ride, I was out every morning before breakfast rounding up the horses and cows he wanted brought in. I might mention that the first winter we were in Montana, someone rode Pet into a blizzard; and even though it was only a mile that they went, her eyes froze and she went blind. I never remember of her stumbling. She was an amazing animal. I don’t remember the year but it must have been about 1923 or 24, there was a total eclipse of the sun. Dad fixed us glass blackened with soot from the lamps so we could observe it. When it became total, the chickens and cows started making their noises, and ran to the chicken coup and barn as they thought it was nighttime. I was what you would call a “scaredy cat”. I didn’t like to go upstairs by myself, and I would always yell at Mom after we went to bed, “mom don’t go to sleep till I do.” She always assured me that she wouldn’t. In 1921, an aunt brought us kids a little French Terrier. “Frenchy” was so tiny that my aunt put her in a her jacket pocket. My sister Elloine was born the 14th of March,
5: Grandmother, Monroe, Hazel, Maxine Ellione, Elaine, LaVonne, Mohrine | Monroe and Hazel Lower
6: and Frenchy took over the guarding of her basket that Mom used as a bed for Ellie. When anyone would come to see the baby, Frenchy would growl and show her teeth. Even we kids couldn’t bother that basket. She was our foot warmer on cold winter nights as she always slept under the covers at the foot of the bed with her little nose out of the blankets. Frenchy was twelve years old when she went under the front steps and died. Once she had pups and the one we kept got to be twice as big as she was. We named him “You know”. Needless to say we had lots of fun with that name. While we were living on the farm, we went to a one-room schoolhouse. It was a mile from our house. We walked to school if the weather was good and rode horseback when it was cold. We moved to town, Judith Gap, when I was in the 6th grade. Harvest time was always an interesting time as in those days the entire neighborhood did the harvesting. They pooled their resources and would gather at one farm to do the harvesting and threshing and then move on to the next place. There were usually itinerants around to hire. I remember one year, one man named Carl Tilson and another known only as Hale. As it turned out, Hale was a criminal on the run. He was as good as gold that fall, and no one had any complaints about him. It was the year these two were working that a former Iowa friend of the family was visiting. This friend had a goofy son about 18 or 19 years old. He was always bragging about his $19.00 suit, and he would take the treats away from the little kids, and just seemed to aggravate everyone most of the time. Well the farmers got a belly full of him, so they started telling him about the “Mountain Raiders.” They told him how the raiders would come out of the mountains down the road just shooting at anything and everything at random. They really had him scared. One evening after supper, they pretended to be working on the machines, but instead got on saddle horses and went about a mile up the road. Carl and Hale convinced the kid there was a dance that night and they started walking to the school to the dance. About a quarter of a mile up the road, they heard all this yelling and shooting. Carl yelled,
7: “It’s the Mountain Raiders.” About that time they heard, “You take the two on the outside and I’ll get the one in the middle.” Carl yelled, “Hit the ditch!” Well the kid started running, jumped a barbwire fence tearing his $19.00 suit. When they got back to our house, they found him hiding under the house in a small crawl space. He was sleeping with Carl and about 3:00 in the morning a couple of guys came by the house on horseback. He woke Carl up shaking and thought it was “The Raiders.” Another fond memory I have of the farm is on cold days when we were unable to do anything more than the regular chores, my Dad would get the popcorn out. Mom and Dad had brought a crate of corn on the cob from Iowa. He would take the corn off the cob, take it outside where the breeze always blew, dump it from one skillet to another letting the wind blow away the chaff, and then make this wonderful popcorn. We always had apples with it if it was fall or winter; and because of those times, I always call those kind days “Popcorn and Apple Days.” Dad also made taffy, and I can remember him pulling it. He would go out on the porch and whip it between his strong arms and it would turn out so wonderful. I was never able to make taffy like he did. One other memory was of an ornery colt we had! He would chase us; and if he caught us, would chew our hair. So we were always running to avoid him. Poor thing got a bad foot disease and had to be put away. It was while we lived on the farm that I saw the Northern Lights. Our folks were going to a dance about three miles from our farm. We were in a sleigh and the moon was bright and the snow was so crisp it squeaked. The northern sky was shimmering in pink and blue and every color in between. Speaking of dances --- it was nothing for us to go thirty miles. They were usually barn dances or took place in gymnasiums. They started at dark, and usually the sun was coming up by the time we got home. We square danced, did the polka, schottische, and later in the ‘30’s we did the jitterbug. There was a round dance, which made it so you danced with several people to one piece of music. I advise you all to get into line dancing or what ever they are teaching now as there is nothing more fun than dancing.
8: I should mention my Uncle Louren here as he called the square dances. He was the best waltz dancer I ever saw and more than once, I remember the other dancers stepping out to the sidelines and just watching Uncle Louren and Aunt Deon do the waltz. One other horse story I should mention is about a horse my Dad got thinking he could make a worker out of him. It was a horse that had been abused. Dad was so sure with tender loving care and attention, he could bring the horse around. He tried everything to give the horse assurance but to no avail. He put blinders on him and put him at the end of four horses hauling a drill, but he would pull sideways and make it almost impossible to drive the other three. Dad finally admitted failure and got rid of him. It seemed he was only good for the slaughterhouse. When I was in the 7th grade, we moved to town. I had stayed with a family my 6th grade. As I had started school when I was five and was bashful and scared of my own shadow, I did not do very well in school. When I was in the 7th grade, my teacher told my folks she could pass me; but advised that I repeat the grade. It was the best thing that ever happened to me as I was now with kids my age and was able to take part in the discussions. I started doing good work and ended up graduating with a 94.3 grade point average. I was athletic even though I only weighed about 105 pounds. Being short, I did things differently than the coach instructed, but I was good at basketball. I lettered four years. I did one-handed shots and utilized the backboard a lot. The big guards they would put in to guard me never troubled me much, as I was so little and fast and could run circles around them. My nickname was “Dinky.” We traveled as far as fifty-five miles to play different schools, and my Dad always took a carload, as he loved to watch us play. Two, no three games I remember well. One was at Harlowton, Montana. Ruby Hess, the star forward on our team, and I started out making the coach mad by over eating; and I had left my socks at home and put
9: Monroe Lower
10: my tennis shoes on bare feet. My feet sweat and I started sliding in my shoes and even rammed a toe through the front of my shoe. Ruby and I started laughing, but the coach told us if we lost the game she would kick us off the team. We won the game, but we weren’t very popular with the coach. Another game I remember well was at Shawmut, Montana. As Shawmut was so small, the boys and girls skirmished together. When we played them, the girls were fouling us because they would forget and use boy’s rules. Well I was fouled just one too many times and went up to the foul line for my shot. The referee did call the foul, but the people of the town started booing me. I just stood there and did not shoot. The referee finally got the crowd quieted down; and while I was not that good at shooting fouls, the Lord was with me and I made the shot. The only noise that was made in the gym was my Dad letting out a big old “war whoop.” Game number three was one we played at Moore, Montana. They were a good team, so Ruby and I cooked up a pre-game plan. The teams always went out and skirmished before the game so we pretended that I was the star forward and Ruby was missing her shots. We had them convinced that they better put their star guard on me. Ruby had the game won before they wised up that she was the best forward. The only other claim to fame I have was winning a declamation contest. I was a junior. I got to go to Missoula and took the first train ride that I remembered. I was five when we came from Iowa and I don’t remember that train ride, but a few of the sailors that were on that train remembered me as I saw a string and started pulling on it and come to find out, it was a corset string which were pretty long. The sailors didn’t try to stop me as they were getting a good laugh out of it. My Mom said they also enjoyed Elaine who was 2 and half years old at the time. They helped Mom with the two of us. Maxine was ten and could tend to herself. When we got to Judith Gap, my Dad said, “I’ll take this one,” meaning Elaine. They would not let him take her until Mom said it was okay. Elaine and I had a great time in high school. We went with a couple of boys that our principle had brought from Clyde Park, Montana. They lived on the same block as we
11: did and were always playing pranks on us. One in particular that I remember was when they showed up one evening and slipped in with a metal pie tin which they placed on the back of the kitchen range. Well, all of a sudden the house smelled like the worst bathroom smell you could make. Of course, the boys knew what it was, but our family did not. They had put Limburger cheese in the pie tin. Elaine and Rick Logan, her boyfriend got to scuffle and he put some on the serge dress she was wearing. From that time on she could not wear the dress, as when she put it on, her body heat would make her smell like Limburger cheese. They lived with a friend of the family who was old and white haired. The greatest “old” fellow ever. He always claimed to be an atheist. My father said, “If Charlie is an atheist there should be more atheists in the world as he never said anything against anyone.” If he couldn’t say something nice, he kept still. We all just loved him. Elaine and I always thought e was behind some of the tricks the boys played on us. We had a next-door neighbor who was always trying to catch us doing something wrong. If the boys were at our house and our folks weren’t, she would come over, tap a couple of times on the door then open the door and say, “It is I.” Now if it was after dark, she would look out her window and there was always a light in the room behind her. We would leave our lights off and look out our window to watch her and laugh as you could see through her nightgown because of the light behind her. Once she told on us about not turning on the light and my mother said to her, “Well I don’t know which is worse, them not turning on the light or you looking through the window.” We never had any more snooping after that. After high school graduation, I went to Billings to Business College. I received a $75.00 minister’s daughter scholarship and another $75.00 from the Dean of Women at Billings Polytechnic. This is how I got through business school in thirteen months, and is where I met Carlos. Carlos and I were married in 1937 during the one and only flood suffered in Billings and I should tell you the story.
12: The wedding was to take place in an arbor at the home of the Lt. Governor of Montana in Billings. As he was in Helena, my dear friend Reverend Ida A. Green (the one who helped me with a $75.00 scholarship to business college) was living there so the home would not be vacant. It was to be at 8:00 in the morning, followed by a breakfast at the home. The music was to be handled by a young man attending Billings Polytechnic College, which was on the same street as the Lt. Governor’s home. Well 8:00 AM came and no one had shown up for the wedding. The guy handling the music tried to make Mss Green think we had skipped town. She insisted we wouldn’t do a thing like that. They tried to use the telephone, but the line was down. Finally, not thinking to turn on the radio, he offered to go searching for us. Well he got as far as the North, South street where e would go into Billings and saw that Billings was flooded. He returned to the mansion, and then they turned on the radio to get the news. A big ditch that ran through northern Billings had been flooded by the break of a dam. The area where Carlos lives was the worst hit. The water came up above the front seats of his old car and it never ran again. Now as to where I was. I lived in an apartment house and at midnight the night before a friend of mine, who lived there too, knocked at the door, apologized for waking me; but her husband had been called to handle an electrical problem caused by a flood, and she thought we should get our things out of the basement. We went down stairs and the owner of the apartment house and another resident were standing at the door watching the water that was cub high at the curb. They laughed at us for thinking we should get our stuff out of the basement, but we did it anyway. Well needless to say, we had the last laugh as once the water started over the curb; it did not stop until the basement was full. The man laughing at us for being concerned lost a hand made saddle worth a lot of money. Carlos waded over to the apartment house at 8:00 AM that morning. The water didn’t subside until 11:00AM. At that time, Carlos’s brother-in-law who was to be the best man picked us up and drove us to the mansion. We were married about 12:30.
14: The plan for the ceremony was to be me coming down a stairway, and the best man and I were to walk up to the fireplace where Miss Green and Carlos were standing. The best man told us later as he was walking with me the water was oozing between his toes as he ad walked in the flood waters trying to keep Carlos and me dry. The breakfast Miss Green had prepared was ruined so they fixed a fresh one, which included strawberries from the garden there. Hardly any of the invited guests attended, as it was just too hard to navigate the roads. The honeymoon we had planned in Yellowstone Park had to be cancelled, as Carlos’ car was never to run again. One thing our wedding did was squelch the old wives tale that rain on your wedding day meant you would be wealthy. Well we were swimming in it and did not become wealthy. Ha! Ha! I worked at McKesson & Robins Wholesale Drug Co. from 1934 to 1939. It was 1937 when Social Security was started. An aunt of Carlos’ loaned us $500.00 to purchase a lot and a three room badly built house. We remodeled it in our spare time and made it into a nice 2-bedroom house with a basement apartment where we lived while doing the remodeling. We had Carla and Andra, and then sold the house and traveled around Montana in a trailer until Carlos was called up to serve in World War II. He nm mn mn nm k hwent into the Navy, and I rented a barn of a house. The first month after Carlos left the landlord raised the rent which made me mad, so I sold a Chevy coupe we owned to a realtor and asked him if I could use it as a down payment on a house. He found me a furnished house and gave me $1250.00 for the car as a down payment on the house. I stayed there for a while, and then sold it, and purchased a little house which was not very modern and nine lots. When Carlos came home after the war, we sold four lots and the house with three lots and built our second home on the two lots left. Again we lived in the basement and built the house over us. | Carla and Andra
15: In those days families went for “joy rides,” and we were on one of these rides one afternoon when we saw this sign “for sale or trade.” It was a little over a five-acre tract with a forty year old house on it. We left a note at the door, as the owners were not there. That evening they called and said they wanted to see our new house. Well she fell in love with it, and so we traded. We plotted the five acres and called it Comstock Acres. We called the lane up to the house Chapman Lane after the people we had traded with for the property. They came visiting almost every week to acquaint us with the flowers, shrubs and trees they planted. We sold two of the front lots and built a house on a third lot, which we sold. Carla, Andra and Chester were enrolled in a wonderful school that was run in conjunction with a college and did experimental work (with approval of the parents) that came from Northwestern University. When we came to Denver, Jefferson County was starting the same program. They thought I was lying when I told them our kids had been on the same program for five years. | Comstock Acres | Chapman Lane
16: Grand | Carlos Adam Comstock
17: Backing up to World War II, Carlos joined the Navy, as he knew he would be drafted and took his boot training at Farragut, Idaho. Chester was born while he was in boot training. As his group was passing through Billings on their way to the east coast, the train stopped there long enough for him to get off and see the baby. While he was on the east coast, his ship went from Augusta, Maine to Miami, Florida in practice; but most of his training was in Pennsylvania. I got to go back twice to see him. He ended up being assigned to a minesweeper, which joined a convoy that went to Okinawa. On the way back the convoy was in the tail end of a typhoon, and his ship was damaged. They ended up on Guam and spent the rest of the war there. As the three sister mine sweepers in the fleet were more readily repairable, they took parts off the Pledge to fix them. So Carlos ended his service on Guam. As his brother was on Guam too in the Army Corp of Engineers, he got to spend a day with his brother, Chester. Fathers of three children were released from duty, so Carlos got to come home. It was shortly after he got home that we built the house that was traded for “Comstock Acres.” One story Carlos’s brother Chet told of his stay on Guam, was seeing dog food cans in garbage, but there were no dogs allowed at the compound. | Mohrine, Andra, Chester and Carla | Carlos and Unknown (nephew?)
18: Carlos worked for an outfit called Hitz Construction Co. He was superintendent and did commercial building. His last job with Hitz was a six-story apartment house. The government was allowing companies to borrow the money to build these structures and allotted them so much time to complete construction before paying the loan back. The time allotted for the apartment building was 18 months. Hitz had promised verbally to pay a bonus to Carlos based on the time under 18 months the building could be completed and rented before the loan had to be paid back. The 12th month, with one month to completion, Carlos went to Hitz to ask about his bonus and Hitz said, “There will not be a bonus.” Carlos tossed the keys to the project to Hitz and walked off the job. As Orin Schuyler was in Denver, he asked Carlos to come down and check Denver out as it was booming. He found a job immediately. We had four different people who said if we ever sold our place to give them first chance to buy it, so we did not even have to advertise it for sale. The new of Carlos quitting Hitz was all over Billings in a flash. Another company got in touch with him and wanted him to go to work for them, but the job was in Rapid City, South Dakota. Carlos called me and said we would move to Denver if I sold the house; but if not, he would take the job in Rapid City and we would keep our place in Billings. The place sold that weekend, we moved to Lakewood, and that is where we lived until the kids all graduated from high school. Carlos’s parents were Irish and English. Julia Kiernan was from Minnesota. When she was high school age, she was placed in a Catholic school. It was not a nice school, and it got so bad that she and another student walked the board fences every evening looking for a loose board where they could escape. They did escape, and she ended up in Seattle, Washington; but she never told me how she got there. She was sixteen years old and got a job in the kitchen of a hotel and was trained by a chef in the days of no recipes. It was a pinch, or a handful or a dab. She learned her mixtures by feel or look, etc. She was one of the best cooks I ever knew. Eventually she was hired at a sawmill. There were two other cooks. In no time, they let
19: Julia Comstock (Kiernan) and Carlos | Julia and grandkids | Chester Comstock and grandkids | Julia, Carla, Carlos | Granddaughter Chester | Andra Grandson
20: one of the cooks go an soon after the other one was gone too. Once day the boss came to the mess house and Julia was sitting at a table resting. The boss said to her, Julia when you came we had three cooks. We never had home made bread until you came and never ate better than we do now, but every time I come to check on you, you are resting. When do you get your work done?” She met Chester A. Comstock at the sawmill; they were married and moved to Victoria, British Columbia where Carlos was born. When he was just a baby, his dad went to Montana to find work, and found a job as a maintenance man for the flourmills in Harlowton. Julia and Carlos joined him when Carlos was two years old. They prospered until 1929 when they lost everything to the banks. From 1929 until the middle ‘30’s, we were all going through the Depression. We had enough to eat, but nickels and dimes were scarce. My father was preaching in Judith Gap at the time and was paid $40.00 a month from the Congregational Church. A church in Boston, Massachusetts sent two barrels of clothes and gifts every Christmas. The pennies we got from the people of Judith Gap went for supplies for the Sunday School, and my Mom always had at least a piece of bread with sugar sprinkled on it for the bums that came to our back door. Dad also worked in the fields as a hired hand any time there was help needed. We had an old three door Hupsmobile, and we walked everywhere in town. I do not ever remember being sad. Everyone was in the same plight so we did not know any better. In 1932, FDR was elected president and what a president he was. Everything started getting better. I had an uncle who was too poor to move away, but ended up very well off after FDR. Carlos’ father was pure English. I always felt that Carlos got the temper of the Irish and the sense of humor of the English. Carlos’ father’s mother died when he was just a boy and his grandfather didn’t keep the family together. A family raised him by the name of Carlos Adams. When he was 16,
21: he went out on his own and asked Mr. Adams what he could do to thank him. Mr. Adams said, “there is only one request I ask of you and is that you name your first son after me.” --- Consequently Carlos Adam Comstock. I believe this brings you up to the point where you know the rest of what has happened to the family. I feel fortunate to have lived to see so much history go by. I remember going to Judith Gap five miles from our farm in a one-horse buggy or a wagon. Then the automobile was invented, and then airplanes became popular, and then came the age of atomic power and then space travel to the moon. Sometimes I believe we are moving too fast. I was always working with figures as a statistician and knew how to run the comptometer, manual typewriter, adding machine, old style calculators, posting machines; and in the 50’s, saw computers come to take over all these machines’ functions. The first areas they took over were statistics and bank interest. When they took over w2’s, I was running a job for Woolworth’s that included a district of seven states. Eventually none of the business machines that I knew how run was necessary. The computer did it all. Needless to say, I am computer illiterate. I have regretted passing up the opportunity to take up the computer; but as I was ready to retire, I had no desire to learn. I am proud of all of you grand children and proud of Carla, Andra and Chester. Now that I have five great grand children, I hope they turn out as well as all of you. One P.S. I might mention is my grandmother Anderson was a twin and had twin brothers fourteen months younger. No one was happier than my mother when Andra had the twins, but Mom died before getting to see them. Her second husband, Oliver, got to see them when he moved to California after Mom died. Another P.S. – I have always been asked a lot of questions about the spelling of my name. My grandmother Lower’s maiden name was Flora Mohr (German) and the folks named me Flora Mohrine. I am glad they did not call me Flora.
22: P.S. #3 – My Dad’s father and brother, Orville, had one of the first Maxwell garages in Guthrie Center, Iowa. They sold and worked on Maxwell’s. As I remember their Maxwell garage went broke. This would have been about 1916-1917, and of course the Ford was much cheaper and more popular. One more piece of trivia!!! One of our ancestors on the Anderson side signed “Signature Rock” which is west of Lusk, Wyoming. Somewhere I have the name, but do not know where. Carlos and I were always going to up to see it, but sorry to say we never made it.
28: When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. ~Joyce Brothers
32: Mother | Grand Mother | Grand Father | Great Grand Father | Great Grand Father | Great Grand Mother | Great Grand Mother
33: Father | Grand Mother | Grand Father | Great Grand Father | Great Grand Father | Great Grand Mother | Great Grand Mother
36: Our most treasured family heirlooms are our sweet family memories.
38: Mother | Grandfather | Grandmother | Great Grandfather | Great Grandfather | Great Grandmother | Great Grandmother
39: Father | Grandfather | Great Grandfather | Great Grandfather | Great Grandmother | Great Grandmother | Grandmother
41: Our Ancestors
42: Parents | Grandparents | Great Grandparents