Pittsfield Township Historical Society :: Ernestine Wilson Meenan
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The Pittsfield Township Historical Society Oral History Project

Transcript of the oral interview with Ernestine Wilson Meenan, joined mid-way through by her brother Harold Wilson, conducted by Emily Salvette on July 30 2001 at the Wilson Farm, 797 Textile rd., Ann Arbor Michigan. Mrs. Meenan reviewed the transcript in November 2001 and made spelling corrections.

Interview Summary

Ernestine Flora Wilson Meenan was born on October 22, 1924 at Beyer Hospital in Ypsilanti. She is descended from one of the first Pittsfield families, the Sutherland Family, through her mother, Mildred Sutherland Wilson. She grew up on the farm that was built by her great-great-grandfather, Langford Sutherland, in the 1830s. Her father, Arthur Wilson, was a contractor, but her maternal grandfather, Ernest Sutherland, was a farmer. This interview deals mostly with Mrs. Meenan's and he brother Harold's recollections of life on this farm in the 1930s.

Mrs. Meenan spent much of the first six years of her life living with her grandparents, Ernest and Delia Sutherland, in the big farmhouse; her parents and brother lived in the smaller house next door. Her brother, who was born a year after Mrs. Meenan, was a sickly baby and Grandma Sutherland offered to take Ernestine until Harold improved. As Mrs. Meenan says, "...I just stayed." She attended the Sutherland School, Saline High School, and Michigan Normal College (EMU) from which she graduated. She taught in Belleville, then married and had four children, Kathleen, Kurt, Karol, and Kim Schaefer. She met her second husband, Robert Meenan, while teaching in California.

This interview adds to the information provided by Harold and Mary Wilson in the interview done with them in April 2001. Mrs. Meenan's recollections of domestic life, interior furnishings, and the daily routine at the farm in the 1930s complement her brother's memories painting a more complete picture of the Wilson property. The Wilsons have entered into a contract with Pittsfield Township so that this historically significant farm will be preserved for the future benefit of township residents.

Transcript Contents -- Outline

Ernestine Wilson Meenan Interview

EWM:
Ernestine Wilson Meenan
I:
interviewer (Emily Salvette)
HW:
Harold Wilson

Side 1:

EWM:
... gotten partway through the interview that you did with Mary and Harold and ...

I:
Okay.

EWM:
... I haven't gotten to finish it. But I will go through it.

I:
Oh, are ... is ... are you going through it with Harold also? I mean, is he ... or has he been able to read it?

EWM:
I don't ... I don't know if he actually sat down. We're sort of going through it together.

I:
Are you? Okay?

EWM:
Yeah. And I'll say to him, "Well, now, how about this?" Or "What did ... you know, is that really what you meant?" or, you know.

I:
Right. Exactly.

EWM:
Kind of.

I:
Oh, great. Because I know he was saying that he was having trouble reading the ...

EWM:
He did have cataract surgery.

I:
Right. Yeah.

EWM:
And I was hoping it was going to improve his ... his reading ability, but he said it has a little bit.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
Not ... not much.

I:
Not tons.

EWM:
Um-um.

I:
Well, that's too bad.

EWM:
And I was so excited about it because I had cataract surgery in both eyes and it was a miracle, I think.

I:
Oh!

EWM:
And then my husband has had it too. We both were so thrilled with the outcome and everyone I know has been very pleased, but just didn't seem to work too well for him. And ... but I'm hoping maybe when he gets the second eye done, it'll be ...

I:
Oh.

EWM:
... it's ... both eyes are affected. There is your pencil.

I:
Thank you, very much.

EWM:
Or pen rather.

I:
And let me first introduce this tape. This is ... my name is Emily Salvette, and I am interviewing a ... interviewing Ernestine Flora Wilson-Meenan at the Wilson family farm house, 797 Textile Road, Ann Arbor, and the date is Monday, August ... or Sept ... July (laughs), oh dear ... July 30th in 2001. So thank you very much for being willing to talk with me for the Pittsfield Township Historical Society. Now you live in Concord, California.

EWM:
Correct.

I:
And how long have you lived there?

EWM:
About 32 years.

I:
Okay.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

I:
Oh, enough to be a native there almost.

EWM:
Yes.

I:
But you were born here in the Wilson Farm?

EWM:
Oh, yes.

I:
Can you ... why don't you just go give us your standard background.

EWM:
Okay.

I:
When you were born, who were your parents, that kind of thing.

EWM:
Okay. Well, I'm ... I was born on October 22nd, 1924. I'm a year older than my brother and my mother, Mildred Wil ... Sutherland-Wilson. My father is Arthur Wilson. And we lived ... I was born in ... I was born in Ypsilanti, at the hos ... same hospital my brother was born in. But home was next door in the small house across the driveway. And I went to the Sutherland School, and then on to Saline high school, and then on to what was then Michigan Normal College in Ypsilanti, from which I graduated. And I guess that's my beginning pretty much (laughs).

I:
Uh-hm. Uh-hm. Uh-hm. When did you ... did you teach ...

EWM:
Yes.

I:
... after you graduated? Did you teach around here, or ...?

EWM:
I started in Belleville, Michigan. And then I stopped and had my family, and I got married and we moved to ... well, basically up to ... finally wound up in Midland, Michigan. And that's where I had ... that's where I had all of my children, between Saginaw and ... and Midland. And I have four children -- two girl ... three girls and one boy.

I:
And what are their names?

EWM:
Ah, the oldest is Kathleen and I have ... Kurt is my son, and then Karol and Kim. And, of course, they're all grown, married and have families of their own (laugh).

I:
Are ... do they live in Michigan?

EWM:
No.

I:
Or ... are they ...

EWM:
No.

I:
... spread?

EWM:
No. They're spread. But I will have to say that their growing up years were in Michigan and we ... they got just absolutely wonderful memories of coming to visit Grandma and Grandpa here at the farm. And when ... every time they get together, they, "Remember this," "Remember that," "Remember what we did," you know, and they did have wonderful childhood memories from coming here.

I:
Did they used to come like in the summer and stay ...

EWM:
Yeah. Yeah.

I:
... sometime and maybe help on the farm, or ...?

EWM:
Well, my ... my mother loved having them. And ... but, you know, four at once was too much, so they'd take turns, and they remember being number one at Grandma's house for a little while (laughs).

I:
Oh, yes.

EWM:
You know, that's a big deal. And my son had a wonderful time with his grandfather. When my father remodeled this house, my son was in high school, and he was a big strapping kid, and he spent much of his summer, couple of summers, with Grandpa, doing odd jobs. He helped tear down the old -- what was it? -- the horse barn, and when my dad took the front part of it off and made it into a shed, my son was ... that was a filthy dirty job, but he loved it (laughs), so ...

I:
Now where was the horse barn situated then on the property?

EWM:
Well, it's ... it was part of that shed where my brother now parks his car, it's ...

I:
Okay.

EWM:
The ... backed up to what used to be the Carriage House.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
But then it turned into a ... where my brother parked his car. My dad always parked his car in there.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
But the one time that was where the carriages of course were kept in and then the horses were on the other side, and the doors are still there, the big doors where the horses could come through to ... to hitch up to the carriages.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
And my kids remember sliding down the chute from the second story, and by ... my father used to have a hemorrhage fit because he knew they were going to break their necks, but there was so much fun, you know, and sliding down those shutes where the ... they used to go to the horses.

I:
(laughs) They ... they had gotten rid of their horses by that time, hadn't they?

EWM:
Yes.

I:
Sure.

EWM:
My grandpa had horses when he was working the farm, and I remember going in there and petting the horses, you know, and helping him feed them, but at that time, it was more of a working farm, although Grandpa, when we were kids, he would ... he was not into farming as much as ... of course when he was a younger man.

I:
What ... you've read some of the interview that I did with your brother.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

I:
And so I don't want to duplicate a lot ...

EWM:
Right.

I:
... of the questions, but I want to make sure that we have a pretty good understanding of what happened when on this farm. Your grandfather stopped farming about 30 something? 1930 something? Or was he farming later than that?

EWM:
That could be. Let's see. He wasn't farming much after I got into high school, and I started high school ... let's see, I graduated in ... in '42 from high school. So that would be about right. The late '30s.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
And ...

I:
And your father didn't farm.

EWM:
No. No, he was a contractor. A builder. And he built houses and my brother tells how he worked with him, my dad, when he got out of the army. We all thought that Harold was going to be a farmer, because he seemed to want to be with his grandpa and do a lot of the things that grandpa did, but as I noticed he ... my brother said he tried it and decided that wasn't for him (laughs). So ...

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
So that's right (laughs).

I:
Well ...

EWM:
Let's see, what else can I tell you?

I:
What are your earliest memories?

EWM:
Well, I was ... actually I lived in this house until I was probably about six years old, because when I was born, my brother came along about a year later, and he was a sickly baby. And my grandmother of course said, "Oh, let me take Ernestine so you'll give him more opportunity to work with Harold." And I just stayed (laughs).

I:
Oh.

EWM:
And I remember of course very much the way the house was at that time when it was all one family. And the bedroom was where my brother's kitchen is now, where my grandparents slept. And I had my crib right under that window, that west window in the kitchen, and right next to my grandparents' bed. And I had a little dresser and ... and then my toys and things in that end. And I would have to go to bed early in the evening of course, and then they would all go down in the kitchen, which was clear at the other end of the house. So I had a lot of scary nights. I remember laying there thinking I heard all kinds of creaks and groans. But they put in little clock, they had a secretary that stood in the corner over here of this ... this room was not like it is now, of course. And they put a little clock that had ... you know, it struck the hour.

I:
Uh-hm. Pendulum?

EWM:
Yeah. It was a pendulum. And it made quite a noise. And that always ... that became my friend, and I knew if I could hear that clock that everything was okay. And I have that clock today and I've given it to my son, so ... (laughs).

I:
Oh.

EWM:
But, you know, that's always a memory that is ... is good because I remember the cold winters. You know, they closed the house off. It ... there was central heating. There was a big old furnace down there. And they closed the ... this room, which was their living room, and the dining room, and of course all the bedrooms upstairs were closed at that time. And so the heat would go just into that bedroom, and then they'd put me to bed, and they'd run down and go in the kitchen where the cook stove was. Where it was nice and warm.

I:
Oh, okay.

EWM:
So that sort of made me think twice before I jumped out of bed and tried to run down there, because I knew it was going to be cold (laughs). But ... and I know he ... he said there wasn't any inside door plumbing at that ... you know, until we were ... oh, I was probably fourteen. Well, no. I was older than that. I was ... when Dad remodeled, that's when he put the bathroom in here and changed all of this. But as I was telling Harold last night, every now and then one of my grandkids'll say, "What was this like, Grandma, when you were little?" And I start to tell them, you know, how we had an outdoor toilet and had to go get the water out in the well house. And they're looking at me and pretty soon, the eyes kind of glaze over, and it's like, here's another fairy tale. I know she didn't (I & F laughing) do those things. So you think, well, there's not really much point in trying to convince them that this is the way we lived back then, thought nothing of it.

I:
No. All right.

EWM:
And I do remember when the electricity came through and they ... that was a big deal of course. But in regards to the house, I do remember a lot of things about it. And Harold and I were talking about this, and he said, "Well, you know, I don't remember that," and I said, "I don't think boys ..." ... You know, I was in the house, I was with my Grandma in the kitchen and I remember the cupboards, and I remember ... and he'll say, "I don't remember that." So I say, "Well, you know, you were out in the barn and you did things I don't remember." So I think that's kind of ... of given (laughs).

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
But as long as I'm alive and if there's any information that I can impart on anything that they want to reconstruct, I'm very happy to give any help I can.

I:
Well, what was the kitchen like? You had the cook stove.

EWM:
It was big. And, yeah, there were ... the kitchen cupboards were all along the one wall and they weren't built in like cupboard ... they were built in, but just basic cupboards. You could open doors and put the things inside. And there was a big ice box. You know, didn't have ice in the wintertime of course, but occasionally they'd get ice in the summer. Most usually everything went to the basement that had to be kept cool, you know.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
But ...

I:
Do you remember how ... how did you ... where did you get your ice from? Was there somebody peddling it around? Or did you have to go to ...?

EWM:
I think that they ... they probably bought it, but, um, at one point in time, this one house, one shed just beyond this white well house, was an ice house.

I:
Oh.

EWM:
And they used to ...

I:
Can you explain what an ice house is?

EWM:
Well, I can tell it the way they were ... it was told to me. They would cut ice at the pond, whatever pond that would be, and stack it with hay all around it to keep it from melting in the ... you know, in the summer. Of course, it didn't ... I mean in the winter. But of course it didn't last too long, you know, it melted I'm sure. But that was their ... their ... what they called the ice house. That didn't happen during my day. I don't remember it as ... as an ice house. But back to the kitchen: Everything went on in that kitchen, and in the middle of the floor was a big oval table with a light over it, and we had ... it was a ... actually was a sink with the pump that pumped the water from the well. And then they had a board that they laid on it, and we'd wash the dishes, you know, heating the water on the cook stove, washed the dishes and had the water to rinse with and ... and then dried them and put them in the cupboard (laughs). And there were loads and loads of Christmas parties. There seemed to be, as my brother said, where the relatives came at Christmas, and all the rooms were opened up and that was when all the beds were used and it was just a really fun time. But it amazes me, you know, we have so many wonderful appliances today, but if ... if I had all those and could ... could entertain, there could be 20, 25 people here, you know. And to wash the dishes and cook the food the way they did, it was a lot of work, just a lot of work.

I:
I just can't imagine it.

EWM:
But, you know, nobody thought anything of it.

I:
Sure.

EWM:
So ...

I:
Did you have help? Did your mother and grandmother have help that came in, and ...?

EWM:
Oh, they would ... outside help? No. No, my mother and grandmother worked together a lot. I ... it was ... we were right across the driveway and mom was over here, you know. I would ... they'd come over in the afternoon and sit on the porch and everybody would do their hand work and that's where I was taught how to do cross stitch and my grandma taught me how to crochet and things. They considered girls needed to know that, you know. So those are wonderful memories, but my mother and grandmother were together a lot, and did a lot of sewing. They made quilts and ... you know, things that farm women did back then.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
My mother was a teacher too. She graduated from Michigan Normal College.

I:
Hm.

EWM:
So ... and she taught in Tecumseh. She taught in Plymouth. But I can't remember, I don't think she ever taught down here at the Sutherland School.

I:
Oh.

EWM:
She may have.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
But I don't recall. My grandmother taught down there. Now did he ... I haven't gotten far enough. Did he tell how they met, my grandma and grandpa met?

I:
Well, I don't think it would hurt to tell us again, just in case, because I don't remem ... I don't recall the story.

EWM:
I don't know. Should have read it more. He ... she used to take the train down to school on the weekends, but the policy back then was some ... one of the people with children in school would house the teacher. Well, um, my grandpa's parents didn't have anyone in school, but they were close to the school, and my grandpa was on the school board I believe at one time. I have some of ... of course this should go ... although Pittsfield Township might like to have the books from the minutes of the meetings and the teachers that were hired and all that. I think they've got it all, but I'll ... at some point in time, now that I know this has been done, I'll make sure those records get back here.

I:
Great. Yeah.

EWM:
But my grandmother, when she was ... during the week when she was teaching, would stay here with ... in this house.

I:
Uh-huh.

EWM:
So naturally she met the son.

I:
Uh-huh.

EWM:
And eventually they got together.

I:
(laughs)

EWM:
And my mother was bur ... was born here and I ... either I or one of my daughters has the calendar that hung on the wall and my Grandma marked the day that she was born ...

I:
Oh.

EWM:
... and hung over the bed on the wall. But, um, that was ... and Grandma and Grandpa I think ... I know they were very happy here. They loved this place, but it was a thorn in Grandma's side because of the animals Grandpa never wanted to go anywhere. And farmers can't.

I:
Sure. Right.

EWM:
And so there was always a little arguing going on about, "Can't we go to see this one or that one?" and so that's why everyone wound up coming here, because Grandpa would not go overnight to anyone's house.

I:
Uh-hm. How long has the family been in this house? Your grandfather didn't build the house, did he?

EWM:
Oh, no. It goes clear back to, well, 1830. And Langford Sutherland was the one that built the house, and there's ... was Langford, Tobias, and then ... that was my grandpa's grand ... er, father. Tobias was Grandpa Sutherland's. Then there was Ernest. And I think that's ... there's six generations. My brother's son was the sixth generation to live in the house, and he's now passed away, so ... But it has always looked nice, you know, and they really tried hard to keep it up, and there's been a lot of love in, you know, that's gone into this. And it's ... I think my brother's going ... is really happy that it can be preserved. I'm glad he did it. I'm glad he did what he did.

I:
Yeah, we're very happy to have it. What parts of ... when was ... there are two homes on this property, um ...

EWM:
In this building, you mean.

I:
The house over there.

EWM:
Oh, the little white house.

I:
The little white house.

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
Can you tell me what ... about that a little bit?

EWM:
Oh, that was in my home. Oh, I started to tell you that I did live here in this house because ...

I:
Right.

EWM:
My brother was sickly. Grandma was just going to, you know, help out. Well, I wound up ... there was always an excuse why I really shouldn't go home. "Oh, you don't have a room over there."

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
"You haven't ... there's no room." So my father, being a builder, finished off the attic for me. And so when he got finished with that, that was my room and then I moved over to be with my folks. But I was spoiled in that I'd come see what Grandma had for dinner, and I'd go see what Mama's cooking for dinner, and then I'd decide where I was going to eat.

I:
(laughs).

EWM:
And of course if ... if I was naughty at my mom's house and got sent home, Grandma didn't know it until Mom had to come tell her. I wasn't about to tell her, you know. And so ... and this other way around, you know, I had them both to work on, so that was my beginning. And I, as I said, went over and lived there ___ when I was six.

I:
When did that house get built over there?

EWM:
Well, it was when ... back when either ... I'm not sure Langford or Tobias, I think it was Tobias. They had hired help and he built it for his hired men.

I:
Oh, okay.

EWM:
His family. And then when Mom got married, of course, they wanted her to, you know, to come close to home. So they fixed it up, did things that they wouldn't have done to ... hired men's family, and my dad and mom moved in there, after they got married.

I:
I see. Hm.

EWM:
Well, then my father being a builder, built them a home in Ypsilanti, and when it came time to move, my mother couldn't leave. And so the house sat there for a long time, and she never ... every time they'd get ... you know, they'd talk about moving, Grandma would throw a fit and, well, we'll put it off. Well, it never happened. My ... my father never ... they never lived in that house.

I:
Oh.

EWM:
So I think that helped me to be very ... I know there was a lot of anguish over that, you know, a lot of discussion on why we ... why don't we, and why we can't, and so I have been very lenient with my own children, because I thought I never want to have strings attached to me like that.

I:
Yeah. Yeah.

EWM:
And so I have ... my oldest daughter lives in Anchorage, Alaska, and she's been there since 1968. And my son was in this ... Colonel in the army and they traveled and were all over the world. Now they're ... he's retired and he's closer. But any time the kids want to go and do, I try to remember, let them go (laughs).

I:
Well ...

EWM:
It worked out.

I:
... was she an only child?

EWM:
Yes.

I:
Oh, I see. Now, let me see if there's a difference.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

I:
Huh.

EWM:
Had a lot of fun. There were ... when ... I don't know, at some point I went ... oh, when I went through the attic up here and cleaned it out, there were ... they never threw anything out. Never. Every letter, every scrap of paper, every Valentine, you know, they were all there, so I took them. And I have ... I started reading the letters that my grandmother and my mother wrote back and forth. And I thought nobody's every going to look at these. They were getting crumpled and dark, and I thought, you know, there's no point in my keeping those. How? So I ...

HW:
Good morning.

I:
How are you?

HW:
I'm old and ...

EWM:
(laughs)

HW:
... decrepit. How are you?

I:
It's pleasant to see you again.

EWM:
But I ... I read them, and I was going to just read them, make sure and then toss them. Well, I happened to talk to one of my daughters and I said, "I've got all these letters here and I keep reading them, and I ... I guess I'll just throw them out." And she said, "Don't you dare throw those out, Mother." So she's got them. She's enjoying reading them and putting them together, but it's fun because it gives you an idea of how life was back then. You know, it was like every Monday I'm going ... they do the wash and certain days you did certain things, you know, and ... and it would tell how my mother got home, because there wasn't any public transp ... well, there was, there was something that she called "Old Maude". It was the trolley car that ran between Ypsilanti and ...

I:
... Ann Arbor?

EWM:
Yeah. Uh-hm.

I:
Right.

EWM:
And they'd ... you know, they had the schedule and so Grandpa would have to hook up the horse and trot over and get her and bring her home when she got there. So those things were all really interesting to read, you know.

I:
Sure. Great. I'm going to adjust your mic a bit.

EWM:
Okay. I ...

I:
So ...

EWM:
... can't think of any ... Let's see, what else would ... would be of interest? I think basically that it's if they want to restore the house to some semblance of the way it used to be, I can ... I can remember how it was. And Harold and I both remember, you know, what it was like. But as I said, I remember some of the details of the kitchen more than he might.

I:
Uh-hm. Uh-hm. What color was the kitchen?

EWM:
Gray.

I:
Gray.

EWM:
And the cupboards were pink. And she had pink ... remember that?

HW:
What?

EWM:
The cupboards in the kitchen were gray on the outside and pink ... pink on the inside?

HW:
I think they still are.

EWM:
Yeah. He's ... you've still got some of them, haven't you?

HW:
Have them all.

EWM:
I'll be darned.

I:
Yeah.

HW:
My dad cut them in two and he put part of it off there in that ... in the apartment for storage and part of it's in the basement.

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
Hm.

HW:
And you talk about cupboards, it wasn't very much cupboard.

EWM:
That's what I told her. Yeah. And they were not fancy -- just doors that opened and a place to put stuff.

I:
Were you teaching during World War II? Or did you serve ...

EWM:
No.

I:
... Red Cross or do any ...

EWM:
I was in ...

I:
... anything?

EWM:
... I was in college during that time. And ...

I:
That's kind of the defining event, I suppose, that ... you definitely know about.

EWM:
Yes, definitely.

I:
And you just ...

EWM:
That was a ... that was a very defining time in our lives. Um, but all I remember is we had ROTC on campus. That was exciting. And then I did marry a soldier. When he got out of the service we were married and ...

I:
Oh, and I meant to get your husband's name. It's Robert ...

EWM:
Meenan.

I:
Meenan. M-E-E-N-A-N.

EWM:
Uh-huh. Yeah. And I ... he was from California.

I:
Oh, he was from California.

EWM:
Yeah. He was born actually and raised out there.

I:
Now how did you meet him?

EWM:
He came into my classroom. He was a ... we had ... he had retired. He worked for US Steel out there, and he had retired and his wife had passed away and he was looking for something to do. He got bored at ... you know, and so he started driving a school bus, and he brought the children into my classroom. I taught handicapped children. I'm a special ed teacher.

I:
Was this in California?

EWM:
No. Yes, yes.

I:
Okay.

EWM:
Uh-huh.

I:
Hm.

EWM:
But I ... my first teaching job was in Belleville, but then I had my family and I didn't teach until after my youngest was five years old. So ...

I:
Is this your second husband then?

EWM:
Yes.

I:
Okay. So not the father of your children?

EWM:
No. Uh-huh.

I:
I ... I don't mean to pry.

EWM:
No, that's fine.

I:
I'm trying to make sure that we've got ...

EWM:
Yes.

I:
... you know, what they've ...

EWM:
Yes.

I:
So the last name of your children ...

EWM:
Well, I was married to a Schaefer.

I:
Schaefer.

EWM:
Yeah, Harold Schaefer. And their last ... my children's names were ... of course my son's Kurt Schaefer.

I:
Kurt Schaefer.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

I:
And that would be important if he ever came to the Township and wanted to ...

EWM:
Uh-hm.

I:
... contact the archives and do something, and so that's why I ...

EWM:
Yes.

I:
... I'd like to make sure we remember everybody's name and ...

EWM:
Yes. My son did a videotape of the farm, and it is really an exceptional videotape, don't you think? that ...

HW:
I don't even hear you.

EWM:
The videotape that Kurt made of the farm.

HW:
Oh, yeah.

EWM:
I think it was excellent.

I:
When did he make that?

EWM:
Two years ago.

I:
So it's recent.

HW:
Just before he started building these houses.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

I:
Oh! Hm.

EWM:
And we all have a copy of it, so ...

I:
Oh. Oh. We would love a copy.

EWM:
All right.

I:
I keep ...

EWM:
Okay.

I:
... I keep trying to, you know, wangle in more things for the archives but, you know, that would be really helpful for us to have if there's any way that we could get a ... buy a copy from you.

EWM:
Oh, he would make it. Um, you know, he just took his ... his tape and made one for all of us. But the nice thing is that he and my oth ... one of my daughters climbed up and he's got pictures of the rafters and just some really interesting things that might help. I had forgotten about that.

HW:
I'm not awake yet. Don't look at me.

EWM:
(laughs) Did he ever ... did you ever get a tape of that? Or just you saw it?

HW:
A copy of the tape?

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
No.

EWM:
Well, I'll have to get on him. But I was going through some papers the other day Harold had out on his table yesterday, and I came across the Pittsfield Newsletter -- it's a newsletter -- and on the back of it, it had some things that you could tear out and join the ... and so I'm going to do that.

I:
Oh.

EWM:
I'm going to become a member. That way maybe I'll get some of the newsletters out there and ...

I:
Sure.

EWM:
... kind of keep me abreast of things.

I:
Yeah. That would be wonderful. Yeah. Because we need to keep in touch with everybody.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

I:
And that would be really helpful. Hm. Okay. Well, um, what other impressions would you want to leave us with about the house and about the way you were brought up, and your experience here?

EWM:
(laughs) It's just that it was a lovely, lovely place to be a kid, and I'm so glad that I had the chance, and that my grand ... my kids had the chance to come and be here with the grandparents.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
And my brother and his wife at that time were living in their home. It was on State. And their son who was the same age as my one ... my kids basically, and of course they'd run across the fields and go play with Neal, and Neal had a dog and they had a lot of fun doing that.

I:
Uh-huh.

EWM:
My Dad was ... my Mom was very, very ill for a whole summer before she passed away and so I came and stayed, and of course they'd bring the four kids. And they were all here that whole summer. And I ... every little while I'd hear something new. And even now, they'll say, "Oh, do you remember when ..." They locked my ... my youngest daughter and his son in the corn crib, when there was a corn crib out there at one time.

I:
Uh-huh.

EWM:
And, you know, kids, they got two of the ... the youngest two in the corn crib and then locked the door. I guess there was quite a fuss over that. [I & F laugh]

I:
There's just never any scarcity of things to do on a farm ...

EWM:
No.

I:
... [laughing] is there?

EWM:
No, but see, they're all city ... they all live in the city now and so I'm glad that had that opportunity, so ...

I:
Have you grandchildren seen the farm here?

EWM:
Yes.

I:
Yeah?

EWM:
Yes. They've come summers with ... when I come back. In fact, the only one that hasn't been here is my grandson, and he's 22 and he's a college ... he'll graduate from college next fall. And he was coming with me this time. He had saved his money and he was going to come ... come back. But I knew he didn't have very long and we had a lot to do. And that can take time, and I wanted my time to be spent with Harold in any way that I could.

I:
Sure.

EWM:
So I discouraged him, but if we come back again I think he's going to be coming, because he'll be out of school maybe.

I:
How many grandchildren do you have?

EWM:
Let's see. I have six and my husband has two. So we just say we've got eight grandchildren.

I:
Uh-hm. Okay. Sure.

EWM:
And they're all grown. My ... the youngest one just graduated from high school. And she'll be eighteen this month.

I:
Wow.

EWM:
So they're all grown.

I:
Okay. Okay. Do you remember any of the other families ...

EWM:
Yes.

I:
... from along here? Did you ... did you have any special friends or ... that ...?

EWM:
Oh, yeah. Maureen Harwood and I were good friends. The Harwoods live down the road. And she was ... she's a little, I think a year or two older than me, and we still correspond occasionally.

I:
Oh.

EWM:
She lives in Connecticut. Hartford, Connecticut.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
And we keep writing and saying we're going to get together but we don't do it. But she comes to ... she ... Maureen has been here, hasn't she?

HW:
She has been here whenever people have died and they've buried them. And that's about the only time. I don't know whether she's been back here at the house or not.

EWM:
Okay.

HW:
But I've seen her at the funerals.

EWM:
Yeah. Yeah.

I:
I just ran into Janice Harwood.

EWM:
Oh.

HW:
Webb's daughter.

I:
She's from ... she lives in California.

EWM:
Oh.

I:
Kind of in the San Francisco area also.

EWM:
Wow.

I:
And she is ... she was talking about one of the Harwood reunions that went on maybe ten years ago or something, where everybody got together, so ...

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
Have you ... do you have plans for some kind of reunion before ...?

EWM:
We don't really have anyone ... you know, there are no relatives.

HW:
The family's not that big.

I:
No.

EWM:
No.

HW:
The Harwoods would be the Hertler reunion, because there were a lot of Hertlers in that Harwood family.

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
And that would involve a lot of people.

I:
Well, they had a lot of children in that family.

EWM:
Yeah. The Harwoods.

I:
My mom said that there were eleven in Janice's ...

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
... cohort, so ... yeah. Hm.

EWM:
It was a big family.

HW:
Yeah. Maureen's family.

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
Yeah. Janice, just her and her brother.

EWM:
Yeah. Well, that was Webb's kids.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
Who's your mother?

I:
Um, my family is the Hopp family. My mother ... my dad is Clayton Hopp, my mother Monica Hopp, and my grand ... my father's father ... father ... my father's grandfather had a farm on ... right where US 23 and Michigan Avenue now intersect.

EWM:
Okay.

I:
That little corner there. That's ... that white house right, almost on the entrance ramp.

EWM:
Oh.

I:
Going southbound on U.S. 23 is the old family farmhouse there.

EWM:
I'll be darned.

I:
And ... but they ... they just ... they came there and that farm land around there, then my dad lived on one parcel and my uncle on the other was available.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

I:
But that's who I am.

EWM:
Uh-hm. I see. Well, you know, that's kind of ... wasn't it Tobias that ... was it Tobias that had the five sons, or something like that? It was Langford ...

HW:
I think Tobias was one of the five sons.

EWM:
So it was Langford's son.

HW:
I think so.

EWM:
And Daniel was Tobias's brother.

HW:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
Okay. And then there ... don't remember the name. Do you remember the name of the others in the family, in that family?

HW:
The girls?

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
No, not really. That's written down somewhere, write about ... I believe.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

HW:
Ah, there were two or three good boys and one was a scoundrel.

I:
(laughs)

EWM:
Well, there's got to be one in every family.

HW:
He was a black sheep (laughs).

EWM:
(laughs) Well, I ...

HW:
There used to be a blind man down here. The name was Geyer, and he knew the history of this place. If they were alive yet and you could talk to him, you would learn more history from that man.

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
And whether it was all accurate or not, I don't know, but I used to listen to him talk. And I pretty well knew what was fact and what was maybe kind of fictional.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

HW:
And he knew his ... he knew his history of this area. But he didn't grow up here entirely. Yes he did in a way.

EWM:
Yeah, because I have pictures of him at the Sutherland school with my mother.

HW:
Yeah.

EWM:
Lee and ...

HW:
Oh, came here in the 20s. But they're not ... weren't old homesteaders like my ancestors.

EWM:
But now I remember being told that Daniel Sutherland was given the property that was the Geyer farm.

HW:
Well, one of the Sutherlands, yes. I don't know, I guess it probably was.

EWM:
It was Daniel because they used to laugh about Daniel being in the outhouse when a storm hit and it blew the outhouse over. Remember that story?

HW:
I remember many stories about men being in outhouses in Halloween's eve.

EWM:
Well, yeah, that was different. But this ... they always laughed about Daniel being in the outhouse when they got this blown over, you know, with the storm. That's about all I remember about that place. But I will say that I ... they had a they had a woman that worked for him, little, just a doll. She was called Mrs. ... Mrs. Werner. And she would come up on Sunday afternoon and visit and Grandma would go down sometimes on Sunday afternoon and visit and Grandma would go down sometimes on Sunday afternoon and visit. And I recall going with Grandma and they offered her a little glass of wine, some kind of ... probably a home-made wine.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
And Mrs. Werner went out in the kitchen to get some cookies and she poured the wine in the fern. You know Grandma wouldn't touch a drop of anything. And I'm standing ... sitting there as a little kid thinking, "Oh, she gave that wine ..." or that, you know, what it was to the ... to the plant, but ... We used to laugh about that when I got older, that she'd talk about that.

I:
(laughs)

EWM:
But I ... when I was probably about twelve, I noticed ... Harold told about the thrashing engines coming through. Well, the women, now, he knows about the men, but the women all got together and they helped cook the dinner, you know, for the threshers.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
And, um, remember, going down, and my first waitress job was with Mrs. Werner when they had the threshers down there. I helped serve the ... and I was pretty big stuff, you know. And then our ... my ... our folks were friends of the Coles that lived in the big ... it's the big Cole house up there.

I:
Can you spell that.

EWM:
C-O-L-E.

I:
Okay, that kind of Cole. Okay.

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
Uh-huh.

EWM:
Remember? And I remember they hired me, they gave me 25 cents and put a little white apron on me to come and serve dinner at some ... they had lovely dinners, and so my folks weren't at that one, and I was just the hired help. And, oh, I was so ... that really stands out in my mind.

I:
Right. Yes.

EWM:
But, yes, you know, we ... we knew the neighbors. We didn't have really any playmates when we were little. But we played together, you know. We played, and I remember playing with trucks, and I made one ... several years I made a doll house out there in the front of that barn, where the ice house used to be, and put curtains to the window and had all my dolls out there, and that was my, you know, that playhouse.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
We had fun.

I:
What did you do for recreation at Saline High? Harold was talking about some dances that he used to go to at the Grange.

EWM:
Oh, yes. Heavens yes. We went to the Grange on Saturday night. I don't know. My best girlfriend was Marian Baker, the Baker family. They lived ... But that was, you know, quite a walk. But we went to school together. Her brother drove us and he had a Model A ... what was that? A Coo ... Coo.

HW:
Roadster.

EWM:
And there were six kids that he picked up right along in here. There were three Bakers, two Wilsons. There wasn't enough room for us all inside the car, so he put the top down, and winter and summer we'd ride in that roadster with no top on any of us, because he figured it wasn't fair if somebody's in the rumble seat, you know, and somebody's covered, so he equalized it by taking (laughing) ...

HW:
Well, he didn't do that in the winter, because I rode in back of that thing all one winter.

I:
What?

HW:
That roadster.

I:
Yeah, but didn't he have the ... he had the top off.

HW:
The top was up over the people in front, but us three in the back didn't have anything.

EWM:
Well then we had to rotate, because I remember being back there with my hood under my chin and getting up there at the high school with my rollers still in my hair and I had to run to the bathroom and comb my hair, and it could rain or snow or whatever. But I thought he made us share by making us rotate.

I:
How long a trip is that? I nmean, is that like a 10-minute ride? Is that...from here to Saline High?

HW:
From here to Saline.

I:
On the road?

HW:
Not quite 10 minutes.

I:
So it was a ...

EWM:
Back then though... [break]

Side 2:

I:
Two of the ...interview with Ernestine Wilson Meenan.

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
And Harold Wilson is here too. That's the other voice you've been hearing. So ... Well, the ... so it's a short trip, and ... but did you ... was Saline the town where you went to do your shopping and ...?

EWM:
Pretty much.

I:
Pretty much? Not Ypsi?

EWM:
Oh, no.

HW:
We used to go into Ann Arbor occasionally, and that was ...

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
... that was a big deal.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

I:
Was it like going to the big city or something? Why was it a ...

EWM:
Oh, yes.

I:
... big deal?

EWM:
Oh, yes. I remember Grandma and Grandpa'd start talking about it in the morning, "Well, Ma, do you think we should go in by Liberty? Or shall we go in ..." (laughs) Did ... you know, they had certain routes they'd start discussing before we got even our eyes open.

I:
Uh-huh.

EWM:
It was a big deal to go to town.

I:
Now what would you ... was that for shopping specifically?

EWM:
Yeah!

I:
Maybe the bigger department store type things? The Goodyear's and the ... stuff like that?

EWM:
And I remember Klines more especially.

I:
Klines. Yeah.

HW:
Our aunt, with our grandfather's driving abilities, that was quite something for him to drive to Ann Arbor.

EWM:
Yeah (laughs). Yeah.

HW:
That'd be like today going into Detroit.

EWM:
Yes. Yes. And I do remember going to Detroit as just the most wonderful thing in the world, and we'd dress up. We wore hats. I have to tell you something funny. We were getting ready to go. Mary Ann and her mother and my mother and I were going to take the bus into Detroit. Well, back then, we didn't have bathrooms or bathtubs, and so we ... the way we'd washed, we took a ... you know, we had the china bowl and the pitcher. And I'd take my ... my water upstairs and take a PT bath, or, you know, wash myself. And then, of course, we had to bring the water down. Well, here I am. I'm already to go to Detroit, and I'm headed downstairs with this bowl of the wash water (laughs), and I missed a step and I fell all the ... the bottom.

I:
Oh, no!

EWM:
I'll never forget that. I was soaked.

I:
Oh, dear.

EWM:
But, you know, these are things that happen.

I:
You did get to Detroit, though, didn't you?

EWM:
Oh, of course we did.

I:
(laughs)

EWM:
Changed my clothes. I scraped my leg up, I remember that, and it hurt, but, you know ...

I:
And you couldn't wear pants.

EWM:
Oh, no. No. We ... we wore stockings and as I recall I had a suit, a little suit that I wore. No, these things come back as you think about the things you did with the neighbor kids, you know. But ... now of course the Cody's lived down there. But they didn't have any kids our age, so we didn't ... we didn't get down to Cody's much, except to call on Satur ... Sunday afternoon.

I:
Oh, you want to talk about calling on Sunday afternoons?

EWM:
Oh, they just ... Mom, maybe Grandma or both, would walk down to visit. And they'd stay about an hour and you used to have cookies or ... and coffee or something. And that's why I remember the ... the little ... I ... the thimble-full of whatever it was. It was something with alcohol that Grandma poured into the ... Can still see the fern in the (laughs) ... in the window.

I:
Was she a Temperance ...?

EWM:
Oh, definitely.

I:
Hm.

EWM:
So was my mother.

I:
Uh-hm. Yeah. So that's ... that was something that I was talking with Mary Campbell about, the Temperance Movement. And ...

EWM:
You know, I don't remember Temperance, the movement. I read about it history books. But they were definitely against any hard liquor. I can ... Dad used to try to get Mom, occasionally did ... no, I guess it was Harry that would try to get Mom to take a drink every now and ... and you might as well talk to the wall, because she wasn't about to do that.

HW:
I think I told you in the other time about my dad, if he had any whiskey, it was out in the barn. He didn't bring it in the house.

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
And he's have a bottle last about 10 years.

EWM:
In the paint cupboard, right?

HW:
Yeah. And I used to sneak in there and take a drink from it.

I:
Now I know you didn't tell me that.

EWM:
(laughs)

I:
I would have remembered that.

EWM:
And then I remember when Harold got his car. It was ... what was that first car you had? That Ford ...

HW:
Model A.

EWM:
Yeah. And he mentioned that my grandfather had this gal from England that lived and worked here and raised her ... had some children here. But when she first came over, she was bored here. She was real young, and she was attractive, and Harold got his car and he was washing the car out under the tree and she came out and asked him if he was going somewhere, and he said, yeah, he was going somewhere. She said, well, would he take her with him? And he said, sure. He said, "You can go with me." So she comes in (laughing), and she gets all dolled up. She put on her best clothes and made ... did all of her make-up and comes out and gets in the car, and he drives into the garage (laughs). Oh, she was mad.

HW:
That's kind of mean.

EWM:
She could have killed him (laughs). Ah ...

I:
Oh, boy. Hm.

HW:
I'll never forget the time I ... I was out back shooting some sparrows with a 22 rifle. She wanted to shoot it. Well, I put an empty thing in the ... handed it to her, you know, and she'd aim and aim and aim, and pull the trigger, and whoomp!, she threw the gun, (laughing) I'll never forget. I ... I was ... I thought that was the most wonderful gun, and I ... she just threw it!

EWM:
(laughs)

HW:
So that wasn't a very smart move on my part.

I:
(laughs)

EWM:
Anyway, back to what I did in ... for high school activities -- I was in the band, so was Harold. We were both in the band. I played the bass drum because I ... he ... he had an instrument, but they gave me piano lessons, and that didn't work in band, so I had to have something, so I ... that and cymbals.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
You know. It didn't take a lot of talent for that. But Harold's the head on saxophone, didn't you?

HW:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
That was a lot of fun, you know. We went to the State Fair down [in] Detroit and things in ...

I:
Oh, my!

EWM:
... you know, things that bands do.

I:
Sure.

EWM:
And of course the football games.

HW:
We had summer concerts all summer long. We'd pay once a week uptown and we got quite a few of the town people would come and listen to us.

I:
Hm.

EWM:
Yep. But it's nothing like ... I've gone through all the grandkids' things, and they certainly do things differently today (laughs). The bands are so sophisticated and, you know, the ... and they have the cheerleaders and all of the performers before, and golly.

I:
hype, yeah.

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
Yeah, not a simple concert anymore.

EWM:
Oh, they are ... they are very sophisticated affairs compared to what I recall us doing.

I:
Well, did you ... were you involved in 4-H or any of the other things that ... take you to Saline Fair or ... ah, State Fair, or anything like that?

EWM:
Were you in the FFA?

HW:
Yeah. But we didn't get ... we didn't go to the State Fair.

I:
Uh-huh.

HW:
We only got to our little fair in Saline.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
And of course I wasn't ...

HW:
That little fair in Saline is grown quite a big fair.

I:
Yes, it has.

EWM:
Well ...

HW:
It used to be held right in back of the old Saline School, uptown or ...

EWM:
Uh-hm.

HW:
... back there where we play ball.

I:
Uh-hm. Uh-hm. Uh-hm. Yeah, it seems like the ones that survive have gotten quite big.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

I:
Like the Chelsea Fair is another one that's ...

HW:
Uh-hm.

I:
... a big deal now. Did you have much interaction with people from other communities? Like in Chelsea or Dexter or ...?

EWM:
No.

HW:
No. Football and baseball and stuff, yes.

I:
Uh-hm.

HW:
In sports.

EWM:
Yeah. We went ... We'd go to the football games, you know, in other communities.

I:
Uh-hm. Uh-hm.

HW:
And of course there was a rival league game.

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
Who was your big rival?

HW:
Ah, I guess Milan used to be one of the biggest ones.

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
Did you play a sport, Harold?

HW:
No.

I:
I can't remember.

HW:
Not really. A little baseball, but not very long, and not very much.

I:
And I assume there weren't very many sports for girls ...

EWM:
No.

I:
... in those days.

EWM:
No. No.

HW:
Are you taping now?

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
Why, about ... we ... I mean, we ... you know, you sit out on the porch and you talk. One of the things that just ... I can't get over is traffic out here. You know, I remember when it was, oh, just a rutty gravel road and some ... in the winter you couldn't get in and out, and look at it now.

I:
Uh-hm. Yeah, now it's awfully busy.

EWM:
Yeah. Yeah.

I:
Uh-hm. What other changes have you noticed? You said ...

EWM:
Oh.

I:
When was the last time you were back?

EWM:
The last time I ...

I:
Okay. So ...

EWM:
Yeah, we ...

I:
... not like a long time.

EWM:
No. No, but, you know, we live in a congested area out there, and I can see more and more of it, with all of the housing blooming around here. It's just becoming more and more ... I haven't ... we haven't been to Ann Arbor yet, but we went over there last year and I just was amazed at how Ann Arbor is so congested traffic wise and parking and ...

I:
Well, the ... I've noticed Washtenaw is getting just incredibly busy over by Arbor Land, where they built that new ... they've redone Arborland.

EWM:
Oh.

I:
And we live not too far from there, so we have to take that in and out all the time. And even in the few years we've been there, it's just been unbelievable.

HW:
Where you live on Devonshire, is that in Pittsfield Township?

I:
No. No. It's in the City of Ann Arbor. It's from ... it's actually almost right on Washtenaw. We're the second house in.

HW:
Oh.

I:
So ...

HW:
I used to work on Devonshire a lot when I was working for contractors in Ann Arbor, back in the ... oh, what was it?, '60s and '70s.

I:
Oh, yeah, a lot of the houses there were built at that time. We had an interesting experience because we remodeled our house. Our house was built in '49, and we just recently remodeled it, and one of the boys working on it, one of the carpenters, his grandfather had built the house originally.

EWM:
Ah.

I:
Because he kept ripping things off and he'd see his last name on this lumber.

EWM:
Isn't that interesting.

I:
He's a Staebler. I don't know if that's a name that rings a bell.

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
But apparently his grandfather built that house and ...

EWM:
Isn't that something.

I:
... he's just remodeling it (laughs), so ... It was kind of interesting.

EWM:
Bet he enjoyed that.

I:
Well, he used to give his grandfather a hard time about how he hadn't done things right the first time. So ... He was just being a smart alec.

EWM:
(laughs)

I:
It's a great old house, anyway ...

HW:
They were showing those old time contractors, just Ann Arbor, they were quite characters. They was a lot of those old Germans, you know, build a lot of houses in Ann Arbor.

I:
Oh, yeah.

HW:
They were. Oh, they was some real wild tales that come down from the workmen who worked with them on...

I:
You can name names.

HW:
Kurt. Well, there was Kurt Lang. He was quite a builder in Ann Arbor. And Ducette was another name is quite a builder in Ann Arbor. And if I were to set here and think for 30 minutes, I probably could come up with four or five, but I never worked...yeah, I worked for Kurt Lang, although,...and some of those people built some wonderful houses out in Devonshire and...oh, on the east side of Ann Arbor.

I:
Uh-hm. Uh-hm. Yeah.

EWM:
I thought I would tell you, I don't know if Harold did, um, this ... all this woodwork here wasn't here. My dad did that. And ... when he put this in and divided it off. But through that closet is the doorway that would go into the dining room which that ... the room next to this one was the big dining room. And so the ... also, there was a door on that side of the fireplace that ...

I:
On the left side of the fireplace.

EWM:
... yeah ... that went out onto a porch and the porch is now the kitchen for that unit over there.

I:
Ah-hah.

EWM:
But, you know, it was very ... a very open, pleasant home when the ... with the doors open. And I remember the Christmas tree always was in that corner in the wintertime.

I:
In the corner of the living room ...

EWM:
Yeah. Uh-hm.

I:
... here.

EWM:
Yeah. Next to the fireplace.

I:
Uh-huh.

EWM:
And, of course in the wintertime they didn't use the door that went outside.

I:
Sure. So they could put the tree right in front.

EWM:
Yeah. Uh-hm.

I:
Uh-hm. Uh-hm. Okay. And your dad did all the ...

EWM:
Yes. Uh-hm.

I:
Uh-hm. What kind of wood is this?

HW:
That's birch.

I:
Birch? Uh-hm.

HW:
Birch plywood.

EWM:
This was always called ... this area was called the parlor back then.

I:
This area back here behind the arches here?

EWM:
Yeah. Uh-hm. And this was the living room. So ... But this ... this was all here.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
But ...

I:
Now what ... what was the difference between a parlor and your living room?

EWM:
They just ... all they had in it was my grandfather had an old radio that sat there and what they called a Morris chair beside it, and he would come in and sit there and listen to his radio.

I:
Uh-huh.

EWM:
And then she had a big Boston fern on a tall table in that window.

I:
Uh-huh.

EWM:
And where those lights are now ...

I:
The little wall sconces?

EWM:
... yeah, they had what I thought were just beautiful old ... the old-fashioned, with a candle, you know, a ... not a candle light but when they put in the electricity, they had ... they were kind of oval and old-fashioned, you know, like they used to be. But I remember those because I thought they were pretty as a kid. And then the bedroom door in my grandparents' bedroom is where the kitchen is now.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
And this bedroom here was where my brother's bedroom is now, was where always the company was put up when they come. If they stayed downstairs, that was a ... a bedroom.

I:
So you had two bedrooms, then to the parlor and living room, then the door through to the formal...the big dining room.

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
I assume you ate all your meals in the dining room?

EWM:
No.

I:
Or did you eat _____?

EWM:
Only for company did we eat in the ...

I:
Okay.

EWM:
No.

I:
And then that went out to the kitchen.

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
Okay. So you ... and then upstairs are how many bedrooms?

EWM:
Two.

HW:
Two.

I:
Two bedrooms.

EWM:
And there is one bedroom up over the what used to be the ... the dining room, and that was where the hired man slept.

I:
Did that go directly upstairs, directly into the kitchen then?

EWM:
No.

I:
Or did he have to ...?

EWM:
He came down into the ... into the dining room.

I:
Okay. Oh, okay.

EWM:
So ...

I:
But everything happened in the kitchen.

EWM:
Uh-hm. Uh-hm.

HW:
The kitchen is big.

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
You know, compared to a kitchen today, it's a big room, with the cookstove in it.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

HW:
Big table.

I:
Would your hired people eat with you, ah ...

HW:
Yeah.

I:
... at the meal? So everybody ...

EWM:
Uh-hm.

HW:
Best to our recollection ...

I:
... sat at one ___.

HW:
... you know, during our ...

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
... when we were little.

I:
Uh-hm.

HW:
My grandad was still farming enough to have a hired man.

EWM:
Uh-hm. Yep. They used to tell about the ... hoboes or tramps coming by, and wanting to work ... do something, you know, for work if they could get a meal.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
And I remember Grandma saying that Grandpa would let him sleep in the barn and she was always scared to death they were going to burn the ... smoke and burn the barn down, so she always had a fit (laughs). But they would feed them.

I:
Now your ... Harold, you said that you didn't feel the Depression as much because there was always food and ...

HW:
Well, I now a lot of people have suffered through the Depression a lot more than we did.

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
Because we were living here where there was something to eat.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

HW:
People didn't have anything to eat.

I:
Hm.

EWM:
____ Yeah, we never suffered really. The only thing I remember was Dad would be depressed because he didn't have work but ... a lot of work, but he managed to ... to keep bread on the table, and then of course they had ... oh, their big gardens we had. And Grandma and Mom canned everything they could get their hands on and we always had a basement full of food.

HW:
Oh, if you wanted to work and you lived on the farm, you could eat.

EWM:
Yeah.

I:
Yes.

HW:
You had your own meat, you wanted to kill and butcher. You had lots of vegetables.

I:
Hm.

HW:
Things of that nature.

EWM:
I think we lived very healthy lives. It's interesting how different you cook. I've learned so many different things, but when I ... when I grew up here, cooking was pretty basic, you know. Meat and potatoes and good ... good meat, but good ... good meals.

I:
Uh-hm.

EWM:
It's been interesting for me to learn all of these new things, like Italian cooking and ... I don't ... didn't know before.

I:
Right. Right. Right. And not so much meat and ...

EWM:
Oh, yes. Yeah. And I have several grandchildren, daughters' children who are vegetarians now.

I:
Uh-hm. [pause] Yeah, I mean, to a lot of people just living without a microwave would be ...

HW:
[laughs]

I:
... troublesome.

HW:
I'd be sitting in that little apartment we looked at this morning. What was that.

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
About the size of this right here. Two rooms and a bath.

EWM:
I remember my grandfather raising sheep and lambs and we'd usually have a lamb that wouldn't ... the mother wouldn't nurse it, so we'd get to feed it the bottle. So we usually had a pet of some kind.

I:
Uh-huh.

EWM:
And then I remember my brother and I liked to get out in the cow barn ... cow ... where the cows were and there was one cow we liked to ride, and we'd get him over to the gate and one of us would get on and it was okay if my grand dad didn't catch us, but if he caught us riding that cow because then the cow wouldn't give milk, you know.

I:
Okay.

EWM:
It was ... was that Little Liddy? We called that cow Liddy.

HW:
I don't know, it was a little brown Jersey cow.

EWM:
(laughs) Yeah.

HW:
Cows' skin don't seem to be like a horse's. They kind of ... they kind of roll ...

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
... back and forth.

I:
(laughs) Did you have horses?

EWM:
Just farm horses.

I:
Not ride ... not pets for riding.

EWM:
Um-um. We had pretty, you know, clunkin'. They got the work done and that was it.

I:
Sure.

EWM:
And then of course we always loved to play in the hay mile, if anybody'd let us (laughs). In the granary and all of that good stuff.

I:
Kind of dangerous.

EWM:
Yeah. They didn't like for us to be in the barn unless they were around, and we loved to get there. I remember digging ourselves into the grain in the granary.

I:
Yeah, that's very dangerous.

EWM:
Hm. My kids loved that barn, and when my father, he had a heart attack and he was recuperating and we'd come to visit but I tried to keep the kids outside as much as I could so they wouldn't inter ... wouldn't bother him. And I remember one afternoon he was asleep in here and my mother ... I don't know where my mother was, but the kids came running and "Gram ... Mom, Mom, come quick!" 'Course, they didn't want to wake Grandpa, so they were quiet, but they got me. And I went out and those darn kids had been swinging on the rope that pulls the hay up into the barn. Well, they pulled Kurt up into the barn (laughing) and somehow or other he lost his grip and he fell all of the distance from the ceiling in the barn to the floor, knocked the wind out of him. I got out there and he was just a pancake (laughs). And, you know, you think, oh, my God, he's broken something and I've got to get him to the hospital and he's got up and shook his head and got going, but I'll never forget, everybody was scared, we thought sure he'd broken something and we didn't want to bother Grandpa because he was recovering from a heart attack. But kids do a lot of things like that.

EWM:
Uh-hm. Hm. Well, if there's anything in any way that I can help with or do, I'll be very, very glad to be contacted.

I:
Well OK, and thank you for taking the afternoon to talk with me.

EWM:
Oh, well, that was good to ... it was coincidental that you happened to call, that ... yesterday afternoon, because I had told Kurt ... Harold that when I was here I would like to meet someone from the organization to let them know that I'm willing and able and glad to help in any way I can.

I:
Well, we appreciate it. And we ... I'm going to ask if there are any last words, because once I turn off the tape, I don't want all these interesting stories to ... (laughs).

I:
All right. Anything else right now?

EWM:
Don't think so.

HW:
No. It's hard to think of all those things.

EWM:
Yeah.

HW:
You're ... I hear you talk about one incident and then that reminds me of something.

EWM:
I do the same with him (laughs).

I:
Well, we maybe can do another session sometime and ... or if you write things down ...

EWM:
Uh-hm.

I:
... that just as you remember them, and we can add those into the file.

EWM:
Uh-hm.

I:
Okay. I'm going to turn off the tape now. And thank you again.

The End

 

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