S: the life of Ethel Louise (Merriman) Foster
BC: Your friendship, love and well wishes will be remembered always.
FC: Ethel Louise | (Merriman) | Foster
1: Ethel Louise (Merriman) Foster | 10.10.1911 - ?
2: the life of Ethel Louise (Merriman) Foster dictated by Ethel Foster - 1989 | My mother's parents, Richard Shaddick and Ann Burnett Shaddick were born in Devonshire, England. When Mother was a little girl, she was given a cup for her birthday. A picture of a stone bridge is on this cup, and underneath the picture is written these words, "Bridge Of The Westward Ho." I still have this cup today. Mother and her sister Fannie used to walk across this bridge. When Mother was five years old, the family came by boat from England to Canada. They lived six years in Canada, and then came to Paw Paw, Illinois. Grandpa bought a farm at Cottage Hill. He lived there until he died. Grandma died on June 14, 1914 and Grandpa died on February 20, 1937. My Dad's parents were Milton Merriman and Catherine Hampton Merriman. The Merriman's were natives of Pennsylvania and Ohio. I don't know where the Hampton's originally came from, but Grandma Merriman was born around Paw Paw or Amboy. My dad, James Merriman, was born on a farm near Amboy. When he was four years old, they moved to Paw Paw. My Grandpa Milton died at the age of 57 of pneumonia. My Dad then farmed the farm for Grandma. My Dad married my Mother in March of 1901. Grandma Merriman then moved to Paw Paw, where she lived until she died. My three brothers were born as follows: Evan Richard on April 19, 1903, Howard Clifford on August 18, 1905, and Archie Lewis on May 2, 1909. Mother named me Ethel Louise after the nurse who took care of her when I was born on October 10, 1911. My brothers were born with just a doctor, no nurse. We lived on the Radley farm then. The reason we called it the Radley farm was because the lady Dad rented it from was named Mrs. Radley. Those days on the Radley farm hold many happy memories for me and my brothers. The Radley farm consisted of 103 acres. Dad planted corn, oats, hay and he had a pasture for the milk cows. He did all his farming with horses. We made a good living on this small farm with cream, eggs, and pigs to sell, along with Mother's big garden and her canning. We also butchered our own meat. Dad had a small smoke house out in the back yard, where he smoked our own bacon. In those days, you could make a living on a small farm.
3: One of the first things I seem to remember is about Christmas. One day, just before Christmas, Dad went to Paw Paw. While he was gone, Santa Claus came. He knocked on the door and Mother let him in. He had a bag of toys on his back. I wasn't sure I liked this fellow. He handed out toys to all of us. He gave me a doll. I must have been about three years old. When Dad came home from town, my brothers ran to him and told him that he missed seeing Santa Claus. One day Evan and Howard found a Santa Claus suit out in the barn in a box in Dad's work shop. That solved the mystery of Santa Claus for them. In those days, Dad made most of our toys. He made me a table, a doll bed, and a cradle. I didn't know then that he had made them. Dad also made stilts for the boys to walk around on. As I got older, I learned to walk on them too. Archie and I used to make some of our own toys, like taking large cucumbers to use for pigs. We used match sticks for legs, then laid sticks on the ground for a fence to keep the pigs in. When I was four years old, my brothers were all in school, therefore I had to play alone. There was a small room off of the dining room that Mother let me use as a play house. I had a table and two chairs, a rocking chair, dishes, doll bed and cradle and a little iron cook stove. I spent a lot of time playing with my dolls. Mother made so many clothes for my doll too. At night I would undress them and put their nightgowns on and put them to bed. Then in the morning I would dress them again. When Uncle Will Shaddick went to England for a visit, he brought back a doll for me. I loved this little doll, for it was so different from my other dolls. I thought the mailman could bring anything, so I would meet him each day at the mailbox to ask him if he had a doll for me. Once day he did bring me one! I can remember him driving a horse hitched to a white mail wagon; later he drove a one-seater car. Archie and I believed in the Easter Bunny. We would go around the yard making nests for him to lay colored eggs in. I was really disappointed when I found out there wasn't an Easter Bunny. I remember Dad coming home one summer day with a small white horse and addle. The horse's name was Bird. What fun we had with Bird, riding horseback!
4: In the winter, when there was snow on the ground, we would hitch her to our sleds. Evan would drive and he put me on the back of the sled, so if I fell I wouldn't get hurt. We would ride up and down the roads and in the fields too. We had a rope swing in the yard. Evan made a swing board large enough for all four of us to swing on together. It was lots of fun, although they would swing pretty high sometimes. I sure got scared, but it was still fun. We always had a car as I remember, a Model T Ford. Dad drove it in the summer, but because of the mud and snow in the winter, Dad kept in in a shed. He would jack up the wheels and put a canvas cover over it. There it stayed until spring. In winter, we rode in a bobsled if there was snow, but when the roads were muddy, we rode in a surrey. Evan and Howard did lots of hunting in the winter. We ate many meals of rabbit, fried rabbit and rabbit pie. My Mother washed clothes in a wash house outside. The wooden tubs were run with a gas engine. She also churned butter in a big barrel churn, put the butter in jars, and sold them to customers around Paw Paw. We had chickens, so she sold fresh eggs too. Wednesday was usually baking day. She baked bread, biscuits, and cinnamon rolls. I loved those days with the smell of fresh bread baking in the house. Mother made most of my clothes. She also made shirts for my three brothers. Mother had a big garden and strawberry patch. We also had a cherry tree and apple trees. She canned lots of vegetables and fruit. She also grew many pretty flowers, and she would take a bouquet of flowers to church on Sunday. We went to the Baptist Church in Paw Paw. In the summer, fall, and spring we would go to Sunday School and church. In the winter, when it was cold and snowy, we didn't get to go. Although I do remember going to Christmas programs at the church on Christmas Eve. We rode in a bobsled, if the weather wasn't too cold. Dad milked cows, about ten I think. He also raised a few pigs. He would take the milk to the house and put in in what was called a separator. It would separate the cream from the milk. The skim milk was fed to the calves and pigs. Mother churned the cream into butter. One of the things I fondly remember is the threshing machine. When we lived on the Radley farm, Uncle John Politsch (John was married to my Dad's sister Mary) would come with his big steam engine which pulled the threshing machine. When my brothers and I saw him coming, we would run out to the road. When he saw us, he would blow the whistle on his steam engine.
6: One of the first things I seem to remember is about Christmas. One day, just before Christmas, Dad went to Paw Paw. While he was gone, Santa Claus came. He knocked on the door and Mother let him in. He had a bag of toys on his back. I wasn't sure I liked this fellow. He handed out toys to all of us. He gave me a doll. I must have been about three years old. When Dad came home from town, my brothers ran to him and told him that he missed seeing Santa Claus. One day Evan and Howard found a Santa Claus suit out in the barn in a box in Dad's work shop. that solved the mystery of Santa Claus for them. In those days, Dad made most of our toys. He made me a table, a doll bed, and a cradle. I didn't know then that he had made them. Dad also made stilts for the boys to walk around on. As I got older, I learned to walk on them too. Archie and I used to make some of our own toys, like taking large cucumbers to use for pigs. We used match sticks for legs, then laid sticks on the ground for a fence to keep the pigs in. When I was four years old, my brothers were all in school, therefore I had to play alone. There was a small room off of the dining room that Mother let me use as a play house. I had a table and two chairs, a rocking chair, dishes, doll bed and cradle and a little iron cook stove. I spent a lot of time playing with my dolls. Mother made so many clothes for my doll too. At night I would undress them and put their nightgowns on and put them to bed. Then in the morning I would dress them again. When Uncle Will Shaddick went to England for a visit, he brought back a doll for me. I loved this little doll, for it was so different from my other dolls. I thought the mailman could bring anything, so I would meet him each day at the mailbox to ask him if he had a doll for me. Once day he did bring me one! I can remember him driving a horse hitched to a white mail wagon; later he drove a one-seater car. Archie and I believed in the Easter Bunny. We would go around the yard making nests for him to lay colored eggs in. I was really disappointed when I found out there wasn't an Easter Bunny. I remember Dad coming home one summer day with a small white horse and addle. The horse's name was Bird. What fun we had with Bird, riding horseback! | Coal was the fuel used to make the engine run. Uncle John would get the machine lined up where Dad wanted the straw stack. Then he stayed all night with us. The next day, farmers in the neighborhood came with their flat racks, and loaded up the bundles of oats onto the racks. Then they took the bundles to the threshing machine. The oats came out of the machine into a wagon, and then were shoveled into the oat bin. The straw made a big straw stack, to be used as bedding for the horses and cows. Mother had a crew of men to feed for dinner and supper on these days. She baked cakes and pies a day ahead. Then that day, ladies in the neighborhood came to help her cook, serve and clean up these big meals. Corn shelling day meant another crew of men to cook for. A corn sheller came and shelled the corn into wagons, to be hauled to the elevator. To us kids it was a big day of exciting things to watch, but for Dad and Mother, it was a very long day filled with hard grueling work. They were so relieved when it was over. Corn shelling was often done in the winter. Many times Dad would leave with his wagon to haul corn for his neighbors, when the temperature was about zero. He always wore a big fur coat then, in order to keep warm. Saturday night was a big night in Paw Paw. All the farmers went to town to buy groceries. In the summer, there was a merry-go-round down by the depot. Dad would take Archie and me down there so we could have several rides. It was five cents a ride. There were also movies above the grocery store. At ten cents a movie, we didn't go very often. We did see a few, like Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd. There were comic movies, which Dad liked. I fondly remember the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year dinners we had together with the Burnett and Shaddick families. One Christmas, we went to Aunt Fannie and Uncle Jim Cropley's home. There was so much snow on the roads, that we went across the fields part of the way. We would cover up with blankets to keep warm as we rode along in the bobsled. Grandpa Shaddick would give each one of the grandchildren a dollar bill for Christmas. How we looked forward to getting that dollar! You could buy something for a dollar then. We had so much fun playing with our cousins on those days. My first day of school is so clear in my mind. Howard took me into the room where I was to go, and told the teacher my name. I remember that my seat was the second seat in the first row. In the spring and fall, we walked to school. In the winter, Dad would take us to school in the bobsled. Or, if it was muddy, we would take the surrey. When Archie and I walked home from school, we would stop at Grandma Merriman's house. She would give us
7: crackers to eat. Sometimes we would walk down the railroad tracks, which was a half-mile from our home. We would walk the rails to see who could stay on them the longest. World War I started in July of 1914, when I was only three years old. I don't remember much about it, as the folks never talked about it; at least not in front of us children anyway. I do remember that sugar and flour were rationed. Sugar came in little squares, and Dad and Mother would put them in their coffee. I did hear people talking about the Kaiser. When the war ended on November 11, 1918, Paw Paw held a big celebration one night on the main street. The people build a big bonfire, and someone made an image of the Kaiser. It was put on the bonfire, and everyone stood around watching it burn. Then we sang war songs such as, "When Johnny Comes Marching Hone." The flu was very bad in 1918. It started in Europe and then spread to the United States. Many families came down with it. Evan and Howard were the first in our family to get it. Then Archie and Mother came down with it, and later I got it too. Dad took care of all of us. No one would come in to help, since they were afraid of getting it. Many lives were lost. It was believed that the way to get over it was to sweat it out of you. Dad had to keep hot water bottles and jars of hot water in bed with us day and night. The doctor sent out fever powder for us, and we were supposed to drink lots of orange juice. He had three heating stoves to keep going with coal and wood, and chores to do morning and night. He would get to sleep a couple of hours before daylight, when we all seemed to be resting better. God was surely with us, because we all recovered, and Dad never got sick. What a miracle that was! That next winter, Aunt Minnie Shaddick (Uncle George's wife) became ill with the flu and passed away. Arthur was four years old and Lewis was two. Uncle Jim Cropley also became ill with the flu and passed away. So, Aunt Fannie kept house for Uncle George, and helped raise Arthur and Lewis. Grandpa Shaddick and Uncle Fred also lived with them. In February, just before we moved to Cottage Hill, I became ill with scarlet fever. Our family was put under quarantine, because it was a very contagious disease. Dad couldn't sell the cream or eggs, so he fed the milk to the calves and pigs. The folks make a lot of ice cream too. I was terribly sick; my throat was so sore I couldn't eat. My temperature went as high as 106 degrees one night. Mother said I talked a lot, but didn't know what I was saying. Our neighbor's daughter died with it. The folks
11: never told me about it until afterward. Before we moved to Cottage Hill in March, everything I played with while I was ill had to be burned. Among my precious things that had to be burned were books, dolls, and a big box of paper dolls. The house even had to be fumigated after we moved out. For the first, second and third grades I went to Paw Paw Grade School, until March 1st of that third year. Then we moved, since Dad had rented a farm at Cottage Hill. Evan was in high school then and Howard didn't go to high school, but helped Dad farm. Archie and I attended a country school. We lived at Cottage Hill two years, and then moved to the Miller farm. Archie and I then went to the Radley country school. We had so much fun at these country schools, although nothing was modern. The toilets were outside, and the drinking water had to be carried from a farm close by, using a pail. Each of us had our own drinking cup, and we carried our lunch in a dinner pail. Dad bought his first tractor, an International, when we moved to Cottage Hill. He continued to farm with horses also. The two years that we lived there were bad ones, as it was very dry, so our crops burned up. Dad did have some corn to sell though. The Miller Farm was much better land, so he soon make up for the bad years. After graduating from the eighth grade at the Radley School, I attended Paw Paw High School. I have many happy memories of my high school years. I joined a group called the Camp Fire Girls. We had Indian costumes to wear, and we made beaded bands to wear around our heads. We wore these costumes at night around a campfire. Our other outfit was a navy blue skirt and a white blouse with a navy tie. We hiked many times, and went camping one summer for a week. We also put on a play one night in the high school gym. The play was a comedy and went over well with the crowd. The four years of high school went by so fast. We girls had slumber parties just like they do today. Some of the studies I took in high school were: United States History, Ancient History, four years of English, one year of Biology, one year of Sewing, and two years of Latin. I have especially fond memories of the Junior and Senior Banquets. We didn't have dances then, like they do today. A group of us would get together after the banquet and go to La Salle to see a show. I remember graduation night so well; wearing my cap and gown, and saying a sad farewell to my friends afterward. I would like to have gone to college, but we didn't have the money since it was during the depression years. I always thought I would like to have been a country school teacher.
12: Anyway, I stayed home to help Mother, and also to help Dad and Howard in the fields whenever extra help was needed. During the summer I drove a team of horses pulling the rope that lifted the hay up into the hay mow. In the fall I drove a team of horses pulling a wagon beside the corn picker. During harvest I drove the tractor, Dad rode on the binder, and Howard shucked the oats. When Archie was a sophomore in high school, he started working for Harry Town in his restaurant, so he couldn't help with the farm work. Evan graduated from high school in 1922. Then he worked for a neighbor as a hired man. Two years after he graduated from high school, he married Doris Rockwood. They stayed with us on the Miller farm one summer. In the fall, they moved to Montana to farm land that was owned by an aunt of hers. Later, they bought a ranch near Vida, Montana. They had two daughters, Marjory and Linda, and a son named Richard who passed away at the age of two. For two years I helped at home, then I met Tom Foster. My friend introduced me to him, and Tom asked me for a date. We had a double date with Ruth Politsch and Owen Cornell to go to a Methodist youth meeting. We dated steady then, and were married a year later. This was during the depression so our dates consisted of a few shows, walking around Paw Paw on Saturday nights with other couples, and going to the ice cream parlor for a dish of ice cream. Tom Foster and I were married on December 30, 1933 at the Baptist parsonage in Mendota. A neighbor wanted to know how Dad and Howard were going to farm without me. My Dad had a stroke shortly after that, so we lived with my folks for two years, so Tom could help Howard with the farm work. Our first baby, a boy weighing over nine pounds, was born on May 12, 1935 at the Compton Hospital. We named him Thomas Eugene, after his Daddy and Grandpa Foster. When he was ten months old, we moved down to Rollo where tom worked as a hired man for a year. Then he went on the road selling McNess products. During that time, our second son, Donald James was born on November 24, 1938 at the Compton Hospital. He weighed eight pounds, and he was named James after his Grandpa Merriman. My Dad passed away on December 19, 1938, of a stroke. Tommy was three years old, and Donald was just three weeks old at the time. We were living in Compton at this time. We moved from Compton to a farm near Lee Center when Donald
13: Tom | Ethel | & | 12.30.1933
14: was just six months old. Howard married Byrd Larabee on May 25, 1940. They were married in De Kalb by a Baptist minister. At that time, Mother bought a home in Paw Paw and shortly moved there. Archie lived with her then, and was working in the Paw Paw bank. Howard and Byrd then farmed the Miller farm. Later we moved from Lee Center to a house west of Paw Paw. The United States entered World War II in December of 1941. Tom's brothers; Merle, Max and Arthur joined the Army and Carrol the Navy. Archie was drafted, and spend four years in California. He married Lucille Bryant on June 20, 1942. Shortly after they were married, he went to the Army. Lucille later joined him in California. We were so very thankful that our brothers all returned home safely. Archie and Lucille moved back to Paw Paw after the war, where he worked at the Paw Paw Bank. They had two children, Ruth Ann and Daniel. We started farming on the Radley farm, where I grew up, in 1943. Our third son, David Arthur, was born while we lived there. He was born on November 10, 1944 at the Mendota Hospital, and weighed well over eight pounds. We named him Arthur after his Uncle Arthur Foster. Our only daughter, Barbara Louise, was born on March 28, 1947 at the Mendota Hospital. She also weighed well over eight pounds. We were living at the Stokes farm, which was about one mile east of Paw Paw at this time. We stayed there for three years, until we moved to the Babson farm, which was about six miles north of West Brooklyn. After we had moved to the Babson farm, my Mother passed away in July of 1949. Mother was ill for nine weeks in the Dixon Hospital before she died. Our fifth child, William Howard was born on January 8, 1951 at the Rockford Memorial Hospital. He weighed just eight pounds, and he was named Howard after his Uncle Howard Merriman. Those years of raising our family on the farm hold many precious memories. We often talk about each one of the children when they were little, remembering the cute things they said and did. Some specific memories are: Tommy raising cows to take to the 4-H shows and county fairs, Donald with his twin lambs, David's special dog named Jack, the ponies the boys had, Barbara's dolls and her love of swinging and skipping rope at an early age, and also her imaginary play friends named Mary Ann and Joanne, the puppies that Bill played with, and our family dog named Niffus. We lived on the Babson farm until 1976. We bought a house across from the school in Ashton, moving to town in June of 1976. Four years later we bought three acres of land from | was just six months old. Howard married Byrd Larabee on May 25, 1940. They were married in De Kalb by a Baptist minister. At that time, Mother bought a home in Paw Paw and shortly moved there. Archie lived with her then, and was working in the Paw Paw bank. Howard and Byrd then farmed the Miller farm. Later we moved from Lee Center to a house west of Paw Paw. The United States entered World War II in December of 1941. Tom's brothers; Merle, Max and Arthur joined the Army and Carrol the Navy. Archie was drafted, and spend four years in California. He married Lucille Bryant on June 20, 1942. Shortly after they were married, he went to the Army. Lucille later joined him in California. We were so very thankful that our brothers all returned home safely. Archie and Lucille moved back to Paw Paw after the war, where he worked at the Paw Paw Bank. They had two children, Ruth Ann and Daniel. We started farming on the Radley farm, where I grew up, in 1943. Our third son, David Arthur, was born while we lived there. He was born on November 10, 1944 at the Mendota Hospital, and weighed well over eight pounds. We named him Arthur after his Uncle Arthur Foster. Our only daughter, Barbara Louise, was born on March 28, 1947 at the Mendota Hospital. She also weighed well over eight pounds. We were living at the Stokes farm, which was about one mile east of Paw Paw at this time. We stayed there for three years, until we moved to the Babson farm, which was about six miles north of West Brooklyn. After we had moved to the Babson farm, my Mother passed away in July of 1949. Mother was ill for nine weeks in the Dixon Hospital before she died. Our fifth child, William Howard was born on January 8, 1951 at the Rockford Memorial Hospital. He weighed just eight pounds, and he was named Howard after his Uncle Howard Merriman. Those years of raising our family on the farm hold many precious memories. We often talk about each one of the children when they were little, remembering the cute things they said and did. Some specific memories are: Tommy raising cows to take to the 4-H shows and county fairs, Donald with his twin lambs, David's special dog named Jack, the ponies the boys had, Barbara's dolls and her love of swinging and skipping rope at an early age, and also her imaginary play friends named Mary Ann and Joanne, the puppies that Bill played with, and our family dog named Niffus. We lived on the Babson farm until 1976. We bought a house across from the school in Ashton, moving to town in June of 1976. Four years later we bought three acres of land from
15: Babson Farms Inc., located south of Ashton three miles and west one mile. We built a new home there, and moved into it on October 4, 1980. This is where we still live today, in the year of 1989. The years we spent raising our family went much too fast. We helped them through good times and bad times, through grade school, high school and college. We are proud of each one of our children and their achievements. Now we are enjoying our 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. The following two stories about the chickens and the gypsies were written later, after the rest of the memories were typed and duplicated: While we still lived at the Radley farm, Mother and Dad hatched their own chickens. This was done in a room off the kitchen, which used to be a kitchen. We used it as a place to keep our coats and overshoes. The incubator held 100 eggs. There were kerosene lamps inside to keep the eggs warm. It took three weeks for the eggs to hatch. There were glass sides on the incubator, so you could look in and see the eggs. What fun it was to stand there and watch the little chicks pick their way out of their shells! Then Mother would take them out to the hen house and put them under setting hens. Each hen would push the little chicks under her with her wings, and accept them as if she had hatched them herself. Two times, while we were at the Radley farm, a group of gypsies came hear our house. These groups of men, women and children traveled in covered wagons, each pulled by a team of horses. These people had dark skin and black hair, and were believed to have originated in India. Some people said that they made their living by stealing. One night a small group of gypsies came down our road and stopped by one of our fields, not far from our house. They spent the night there, and were gone early the next morning. Dad was worried that they might steal some of our chickens, but I don't believe they did. My other experience with gypsies happened one day when I was playing out in the front yard. I looked up suddenly, and a gypsy wagon was going by. I ran as fast as I could, and hid behind the house. Someone had told me that they stole little children, so I wasn't taking any chances. I peeked out from behind the house and watched them go by.
18: Susan: This is October 20, 1983 and I'm interviewing Ethel Foster about her days-gone-by. What are your earliest memories of life on the farm? Ethel: About the earliest I can remember, I was about four years old and my brothers were all in school. I asked Mother how long it was before I could go, and she said two years. I thought that was an awfully long time. Susan: Did you help your Mother around the house, since you were the only girl? Ethel: When the boys were all in school, I used to like to help her around the house. Susan: Did you bake many cookies? Ethel: No, we didn't bake many cookies. We bought them. It was in later years that we baked them. Susan: Having three brothers, do you recall specific incidents where they teased you, and would give you a hard time? Ethel: No, they really didn't. Susan: I think you were pretty lucky to have that experience. When you think back to your first school days, do you have any special memories? Was it a one room school? Ethel: I went to Paw Paw the first, second and half of the third grades. I don't have too man memories about it. I used to like recess. Susan: Were your brothers there? Ethel: They were in the same building, but I didn't usually see them during the school hours. They had recess at different times. Then we moved to a farm further away, so we went to a country school. I liked that better; it was more like a family. Susan: You were living in town then? Ethel: No, just near Paw Paw, about one and one-half miles west. We were all born there in that same house. Just a doctor and a nurse. My nurse's name was Louise, so they named me Ethel Louise. Susan: Well, I'm glad you shared that, since my daughter's middle name is Louise too, because of that. It will be something she will enjoy hearing. Did you help in any way with chores, since you lived on a farm rather than town? Ethel: No, although I did gather eggs once in a while. The boys helped with the chores. | Q&A - 1983 Ethel Foster & Susan Foster (wife of David Foster)
19: Susan: Did your Mother have a garden? Ethel: Yes, a big garden. About the only thing I did was pick strawberries. Susan: Did she do any canning or freezing? Ethel: She did a lot of canning: strawberries, cherries, beans, peas, and things like that. Susan: What animals did you have? Ethel: Milk cows was all my Dad ever had. Susan: About how many? Ethel: About ten, never any more than that, if that. Susan: Did you have dogs or cats? Ethel: Oh yeah, we had lots of cats out in the barn and one dog. When he died, we didn't have a dog until we moved to that second farm; then we got a little dog. We were at the first farm just until I was eight years old. We were only at the other one two years. Then we stayed at the last farm until I was married. Susan: What kinds of things did you do for fun? Ethel: When we were little kids on the Radley farm, we used to play with homemade toys. My Dad used to make them. We had these stilts that you walk on. Archie and I used to hurry home from school, so we could walk on them. For Christmas, Dad made me a table and chairs, a doll bed and cradle; and I didn't know the difference. I thought Santa Claus had brought them. I had lots of dolls. I had so many dolls, that when Mildred Merriman Foster heard about them, she asked her folks to stop one day, so she could see all my dolls. Susan: Were they all store-bought dolls, or did your Mother make any of them? Ethel: They were all store-bought dolls. I had one doll that my Uncle Will Shaddick brought me from England. I thought lots of that doll. It was a little different than the other dolls I had. Susan: Did your Mother make any doll clothes for them? Ethel: Yes, she made some doll clothes. Susan: Having two daughters, I can remember making lots of doll clothes. Ethel: I used to put my dolls to bed every night, put their nightgowns on, put them to bed and cover them up. Then in the morning, I would get them up and dress them.
20: Susan: Did you go to town for groceries? Ethel: We went to town on Saturday nights. Mother made butter, and when we first got to town, we took butter around to these different people. Then we'd go downtown and park. Mother would buy the groceries. One summer they had a merry-go-round down by the depot, and we got to ride on it. It was five cents a ride. We thought that was great fun. They had movies, and when we got a little older, we got to go to some of them. It was ten cents a movie. Susan: Was this an indoor movie, in a building? Ethel: Yes, it was upstairs above a store. Susan: Did your mother have a lot of eggs to sell each week? Ethel: She sold her eggs too. Most of them she took to the store to sell. he used to bake her own bread. Usually she baked bread and biscuits on Wednesdays. I remember how good the house smelled when we came home from school. In later years, she bought her bread. Susan: What were your high school years like? Ethel: I went to Paw Paw High School. I had many friends. I enjoyed them. I belonged to a group of Camp Fire Girls. We got to go camping every summer. Susan: At an organized campground that had cabins or tents? Ethel: It had cabins. Susan: Where was this campground? Ethel: Over by Franklin Grove. They used to have a campground there. We thought we were a long ways from home then. Susan: Did you have other extra-curricular activities? Ethel: No, in those days the girls weren't allowed to play in the gym, just the boys. So, about all the girls could do at noon was visit. Susan: Were you in any plays? Ethel: The Camp Fire Girls put on a play one time. I was in that. I was in the Senior class play. They were the only plays I was in. Susan: How many kids were in your graduating class? Ethel: That I can't remember. Susan: Twenty or thirty or forty? Ethel: Probably about a dozen. Susan: What happened the year after high school? What did you do then, after you graduated? Ethel: I just stayed home and helped Mother. It wasn't easy then. I would have gone to college, but I didn't have the money.
21: Ethel: I always thought I wanted to be a teacher, but I just stayed on the farm. I helped Howard and Dad pick corn. I'd drive the horses along side of the corn picker. I helped when they made hay too. I'd drive the hay loader and the hay fork. I helped Mother with the housework for two years, until I got married. Susan: Would you have gone up to De Kalb to Northern? Ethel: Yes, that is where I had planned to go. I would have had to borrow the money. It was $500. You could go two years and then teach. I was afraid to borrow the money. Susan: That would have been a big step for a woman back in those days. Ethel: It looked like a lot of money. Susan: How did you first meet Tom? How and where? Ethel: I was at a basketball game, Howard and I were up in the balcony. When I went down the stairs, I met Ruth Poltisch, and she wanted to know if I would go with Tom that Sunday night to a meeting at the Methodist Church. So we doubled-dated; she went with Owen Cornell and I went with Tom. Susan: So it was a blind date then? Ethel: Not all together, we had seen each other. Susan: Was this the first winter after your graduation? Ethel: The second winter. Susan: The game was there at Paw Paw? Ethel: Yes, there at the high school. ("She'd drive by on the way to school and wouldn't even waive at me." - this comment was made by Tom as he was listening in the other room. Susan told him he would have his chance to talk later.) Susan: Then did you start dating regularly after that? Ethel: That is when it started. It was January 8th, 1931. Susan: Then did you date for a year? Ethel: About a year. Susan: What kinds of things did you do when you went on a date, what kinds of activities? Ethel: Things at the church, once in a while a movie, and we would walk around town on Saturday nights. Susan: Did he have a vehicle of some sort? Ethel: At first he didn't. He had to borrow his folks' car, then he finally got one. Susan: What did your brothers and your parents think? Were they kind of protective of their only sister?
22: Ethel: Well, not really. I mean they didn't object. Susan: Can you describe your wedding day? the weather and the events of that day? Ethel: It was a rainy day. We went to Mendota to the Baptist parsonage, since we knew the minister there. We were married at 4:00 with two witnesses, and then went downtown to have our pictures taken. Then we went home. Susan: Who were the two witnesses? Ethel: The minister's wife and a friend of hers. I don't even remember her name. Susan: Were your parents aware of this? Ethel: Yes, they knew we went. It wasn't a church wedding. In those days, nobody could afford it. Susan: Then you lived with your parents for a while? Ethel: Shortly after that, my Dad had a stroke, so we lived with them for two years so Tom could help Howard farm. then we got a job down by Rollo. We went down there not quite a year, and then moved into Paw Paw. That was when Tom sold McNess products. Then we moved to Compton, Lee Center, and back to Paw Paw. Susan: That is a lot of moving. Were they mostly country homes or in town? Ethel: We lived in Compton, but in Lee Center it was in the country. Then we moved back into paw Paw. Then about the time the war started, we started farming. So we moved out to this place southwest of Paw Paw, where I was born. We lived two years there, while Tom and Donald were small. Then we moved up to the Stokes place, and lived there three years. David was born at the Radley place, and Barbara was born at the Stokes place. Then from there we moved up to West Brooklyn, where we stayed for 29 years. Susan: Now you are moving real fast. You have four kids already. So we have to back up here a little bit. Can you describe the day or any memories of having your first child? Where was he born? Ethel: He was born while we were living with my folks. We went to Compton, they had a hospital then. That was Tommy, he weighed nine and one-quarter pounds. Susan: That was a big baby for your first one. Did you stay a week or two? What was the procedure? Ethel: A week, then I went home. We moved away from home when he was about a year old. Susan: Was Tom present for the births? Ethel: All of them, all but for Bill's. Susan: That is really neat, because they are getting back to that today (having the fathers there). Where was Don born?
25: Ethel: He was born when we were living in Compton. He was born at the same hospital that Tom was born in. He weighed eight pounds. We moved back to Paw Paw, and then out to the Radley place. David was born while we were there. He was born at the Mendota Hospital. Then we moved up to the Stokes place, and Barbara was born while we were there. She was also born at the Mendota Hospital. Susan: Do you have any early memories of the first two boys when they were little, because there is kind of a time span between them and David. Amy memories of how you raised little ones then as compared to now? Ethel: Well, there were six years between David and Donald. I has just the two boys. They really played good together. They didn't fight very much. I used to have time to read to them and play with them too. Susan: There wasn't any television? Ethel: TNo, there wasn't any television. So we had to read. We did have a radio. They used to listen to stories on the radio. Susan: Would they have gone to Paw Paw school at first? Ethel: Yes, they both started at Paw Paw, and then we moved up to the Stokes place. So they went to the Jonesville School. Susan: That must have been a one room school out in the country? Ethel: Yes, and then when we moved to West Brooklyn, they went to Lee Center. Tom and Donald graduated from Lee Center High School. Susan: I remember David telling me he started in West Brooklyn. Ethel: Then he went to Lee Center and then to Ashton. He was in the 7th grade when he went to Ashton. Barbara was in the 4th grade. Susan: Did Barbara go directly to Lee Center and then to Ashton? Ethel: She went to West Brooklyn too. Bill was born in the Rockford Memorial Hospital by cesarean section, when Barbara was about three years old. So there is about six years difference between David and Bill. Susan: I remember one time you told me that when Bill was born the doctor told you to lay down a certain amount of time each day. You said to him, "How do I have time to lay down with five children?" Ethel: I didn't always lay down. Susan: It must have been kind of hectic with boys just about out of high school with their activities and basketball, and to have a little one too.
27: Ethel: Yes, Tom was 15 when Barbara was born. I'd have to drive over to Lee enter to pick him up after basketball practice, and take two little kids along every night. That was quite a chore. Susan: This was about the time that your first daughter-in-law came into the picture? Ethel: Tom was 19 when he and Shirley were married. Susan: They had gone together for a long time, and were out to the house many times. Did Tom get a car of his own when he was 16? Ethel: Yes, he had a car of his own when he was a senior in high school. Susan: I suppose he had to save money. He had milk cows in 4-H? Ethel: Yes, milk cows. Susan: How many did he have? Ethel: I don't know. Susan: I'll put that down to ask Dad. When Tom graduated did he start working in Dixon? Ethel: Yes, he was a car salesman. Susan: Then he and Shirley were married in 1953? Ethel: Yes, I believe that is right. Susan: He was out of high school a year? They were married in March. Ethel: It must have been two that he was out, because Shirley had a year of school to finish. Susan: Did Tom live at home until he got married? Ethel: Yes. Susan: Then when Don got out of high school, what did he do? Ethel: First he stayed at home, milking cows and working different places. After a year, he went to the Army. He was gone to the Army for two years. Susan: