Chapter 21 – My Retirement Years And A Look Back on My Life

April 6, 2009 - 1,076 views

Now that I have finished my teaching (and most everything else of importance), I will look back over my life. Maybe I can think of some things of importance to add to what I have already written.

I remember Father telling about some neighbors coming by there squirrel hunting one Sabbath. He gave them all the melons they could eat and one to take with them. That evening as they came home they stopped in the melon patch and pulled all the vines and piled them up.

One summer we raised a fine crop of corn, also a fine patch of melons. Ellsworth went up to Mr. Brake’s store, and Mr. Brake wanted to know how much corn we raised. Ellsworth told him 900 bushels. He said we ought to have raised a fine crop, for we spent all summer tending it. Ellsworth replied, “It kept us from stealing our neighbors’ watermelons.” (His boys had stolen a bunch of our melons.)

Growing up on a farm, I learned to love the country and country people—I still do. Just give me a farm with stock, and I could be happy—if I were able to work it.

I am so glad Father and Mother taught me to be honest and truthful, to hate trickery and deceit, to select the better class of people as my friends, to be loyal to a friend and never try to injure any by malicious gossip or cowardly lies, to stand up for the right, and to be sure I was right and stick with it . I have learned to be careful what I say. I remember the Proverbs:

Answer not a fool. (Prov. 26:4, KJV)

Cast not your pearls before the swine lest they trample them under foot and turn and rend you. (Matt. 7:6, KJV)

Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him. (Prov. 26:12).

Jennie’s Stroke

My wife had a slight stroke in the last of September 1945, and Brady and Mary took her down there. Mary was taking care of Leortha, so I stayed at Brady’s and cared for Jennie. She was so she could walk about the house a little. We got along very nicely as Mary was at home to get breakfast and supper and Ruth would fix our dinner. They were all very nice to Jennie, so we had a fine time until after Thanksgiving, which was the third Thursday in West Virginia. Then Archie came after us, and we had a second Thanksgiving, which was the last Thursday in Tennessee.

The Milton Years—1946-1948

We stayed at Archie’s until the 14th of December, when Archie and Avis took us to Elmo’s [in Milton, Wisconsin]. This was a little the worst trip we ever took. There was a little snow on the ground in Tennessee. We got along very well till we crossed the Ohio River at Louisville, where we stayed all night. From there on it got colder fast. By 4 p.m. we could not keep the ice off the windshield, and Archie was so cold he said we would have to stop. We put up at a hotel, and Avis and Archie went out and got some bread, meat, coffee, cakes, etc., and we warmed it on the fire. We had a dandy supper with plenty left for breakfast. We waited till late to start the next morning. We had a very nice trip the rest of the way, although it was still very cold.

We got to Elmo’s about noon Sunday. Everybody was sure glad to get in where it was warm. We found it was 17 degrees below at Milton that morning. Some cold for December 16! Jennie did not seem over-tired by the trip, but later she proved to be.

It warmed up a little but stayed quite cold for some time. Jennie got along very well till the excitement wore off, when she took a severe cold and had a complete collapse.

Elmo’s said Dr. Crosley was a very fine doctor, so we sent for him and found he was one of the best. He told us that she blacked out on him (she really did) and that he would make no promises. He found her in a very poor condition, and she had but little strength on which to build. He said he would do all he could, which proved to be enough as he soon had her going around.

We have been very lucky in finding Dr. Condon of New York, Dr. Crosley of Milton, and Dr. Sullivan of Cleveland, Tennessee, very fine doctors. Jennie had two or three severe spells while we were in Milton. When we left there in the spring of 1948, she was much better than she was when we went there.

Milton Church and Friends: For the first time in years we had a chance to go to our church on Sabbath, and it was so nice. The people were so friendly and nice to us. I will never forget the way they treated us and the nice things they said about Elmo and Madeline. We soon got acquainted with the people. The women were so nice to Jennie, and we were invited to the homes of many of our people. We met some of our old ministers—Dr. Ben Shaw, Rev. Van Horn, and W. D. Burdick. These have all died since we left Milton.

I picked apples with W. D. Burdick two falls for Prof. Stringer. He was a small active man who was past 80 years old. He would go up into the trees like a man half his age. He was a very high-class Christian gentlemen and minister.

There were several very nice widows well up in years for whom I did some little work. I enjoyed this work very much.

I must not forget to mention Prof. Stringer, who was teacher of vocal music in the college and was church chorister. He had a fine young apple orchard two miles out. I helped him pick apples both falls I was there. The limbs would be hanging to the ground with fine, big apples, which I picked so fast that it was fun. The last year I was there, I made nearly $40 and then gathered apples he left that lasted Elmo’s nearly all winter. How I would have liked to have been there to pick apples this fall!

We found our Seventh Day Baptist people very sociable. In fact, they were as fine, nice people as I ever met. I will mention just a few who were especially nice to us—Dr. Crosleys (his wife was a sister to W. D. Burdick and very nice); Rev. W. D. Burdick, than whom there were none finer; Milton and Mary Van Horn; the young dentist (he and Milt hunted with us a lot); Prof. Cy and his wife; Prof. Stringer (who was very nice to me); a young Shaw who was very nice to us; Miss Clark and her brother; Mr. and Mrs. Lowther; and two widow ladies for whom I did a lot of work. They were so very nice to us. In fact, there were so many that I should mention that I will say all of the Seventh Day Baptist folks treated us like old friends and neighbors. But I should not forget the two Hurley families who were very nice to us.

Fishing, Hunting and Gardening: Elmo and I went fishing some, but I did not have very good luck. One day we were out Elmo caught two wall-eyed pike; one weighed 2¾, the other 3¾ pounds. Once when I was not with him, Elmo caught a cat that weighed 6¾ pounds. A fine cat!

I enjoyed duck hunting very much. The second fall we had excellent hunting. The season opened at noon. Four of us went out together, and we came in that evening with 20 birds. The most of them were nice-sized ducks. We had duck to eat for several days. It is great sport to go out with two or three congenial companions and hunt or fish. I have missed this since coming to Tennessee.

I did some work in the garden; in fact, we raised some fine gardens. The last year we were there, we had all the green beans we needed to eat and can and had more sweet corn than they wanted, so they sold some.

Rabbit Enterprise at Milton: Elmo had just moved a number of rabbits (New Zealand Whites) into the back yard. He planned for me to care for them and share in the profits. I enjoyed caring for the rabbits very much (the fact is, I always enjoyed caring for animals).

We raised a large number of rabbits, but we could not raise enough to supply the demand. We bought several more rabbits and were just getting ready to buy all pure-bred rabbits and make good money when we decided in the spring of 1948 to go back to West Virginia. We bought a large number of young rabbits to butcher to hold our customers. We made good money on those we bought, and it also paid those who raised them. Before we left, Elmo sold the whole outfit for $150. The venture paid very well and gave me something to do. I am very glad I had this experience with rabbits.

A Teaching Experience in Milton: I will give a little experience I had in teaching a pre-kindergarten pupil. Johnnie [Elmo’s son] (who was also named after me) was past four years old. In the fall before we left I told Madeline, if they wanted me to, I would teach Johnnie to read. She said, “Why don’t you?” So I went to work. Ann brought home some pre-primers. Johnnie would climb on my knees, and I would tell him a word (he did not know his letters) and turn to another page and tell him to find the same word there. He soon got so he could find the words anywhere in the book. Then I would teach him a new word. As soon as he began to get restless, we would quit.

There were two chief reasons why he learned so well: he is bright and wanted to learn, and he was all alone so it gave him an extra game to play. Oh, it was fun for each of us! He soon learned every word in the first book and could really read every story in it. Then we took up another one. He finished three pre-primers. Then in the same manner we did three primers. When we finished these, we took up a first reader, which we had about finished when Jennie and I left for West Virginia. I have wished so often that I could have taught him for another year! I would have taught him spelling, writing, and arithmetic so he would have been ready for the second grade when he was six years old.

In life there are many disappointments, but there are also many pleasures. The teaching of Johnnie will always be a bright memory, with a lot of other bright memories in my teaching life. It often happens that teaching is a thankless job. There is some compensation when in later life your old pupils come to you and say (as several have done to me) that they first became interested in getting an education from me. I know that I got many interested in getting a high school and college education. I hope I have helped several to live better, fuller lives.

Back to West Virginia, March 1948

We left Milton on March 31, 1948, and got to Brady’s April 1. We spent a year in West Virginia, mostly at Brady’s although I spent about as much time at Ashby’s. For a while I milked the cow and tended the garden. In the late summer they decided they did not want to be bothered with the cow (she was our cow), so we sent her up to Olta’s as they were glad to have her. She was a very fine cow. Late in the fall we sold her for $150. This was the last property of any amount we owned except one-half interest in the farm on Bug Ridge.

We had intended to go back to the farm that summer, but we found there were no household goods to keep house with, and Brady’s were very much opposed to it. So we did not go to the farm. Jennie worked faithfully on Alma and Mary Ellen’s wedding outfits. Alma was married in their church. Jennie and I went up to Huffman’s so we were not there (at the wedding). After Jennie got the sewing done for Mary Ellen, we went to Ashby’s till Brady’s family came back from the wedding at Washington, D.C.

About the first of September Archie’s came by Ashby’s and offered to take us back to Tennessee with them. We decided to wait till later in the fall. Instead of going to Tennessee, we went to Brady’s for a while.

Before we got ready to go (on October 6), Jennie fell one evening and broke her hip. We took her to the hospital at Sutton, where she stayed for 33 days. I tried to make things as bearable for her as I could by going down by 8 or 9 a.m. and staying till about dark. This kept her from being lonesome. I would go out and get my dinner. Jennie did not eat much, and it would often hurt her. It got so everything, nearly, hurt. They gave her penicillin till she was so sore.

After she came back to Brady’s, they got her a hospital bed from Bill’s, which made it nice for her. She would seem to get better, but then she would take spells of terrible pain. They finally gave her a course of streptomycin, which seemed to help.

On to Tennessee

I came to Tennessee the 3rd of April. Archie, Avis and Alois went up two weeks later and brought Jennie back on a cot in the back part of the car. I was surprised at the way she stood the trip. She got along fine for a few weeks, then she got worse. We got a very nice doctor who was so nice to her. He would give her dope to ease her suffering and medicine he thought would help her. When it didn’t, he would try something else; nothing did any good for long.