Monday, May 11, 2009

My World Tuesday = My First Cousin's Memoirs

My father Leo came from a very large Ohio family---twelve children. I have just recently discovered that my first cousin, Edna Wise, who I believe still lives in or near Fort Laromie, Ohio wrote and self published two small memoirs of growing up as a farmer's daughter during the Great Depression. Edna Wise was the youngest child of my father's older sister, Alice who married Ben J. Poeppelman on December 23, 1928. Alice died unfortunately of cancer at the very young age of 36 and she left her husband Ben to raise with the help of hired girls and then his next wife her six children including Edna Wise. Edna was her mother's youngest child and she was under two when her mother died.

I never had the opportunity to meet Aunt Alice but I certainly do remember as a young girl visiting Uncle Ben and Aunt Genevieve who was Uncle Ben's third wife. (Uncle Ben's first wife also died quite young. ) Anyway Aunt Genevieve was a widow with children and Uncle Ben was a widower with children so they married and blended their young families.

Uncle Ben and Aunt Genevieve owned a farm in Shelby County that was at the end of Schmitmeyer-Baker Road. Whenever my Dad took me to visit Uncle Ben and Aunt Genevieve he said we were going to the Laromie Reservoir and that we would probably have some fish for dinner there. In those days people didn't call to say they were coming for a visit after church on Sunday. You just showed up and the people were expected to provide you with dinner. Well, for one thing a lot of folks still didn't have phone service yet and if they did, it was one of those wood boxes with a hand crank that was attached to the wall. Party line too!) Can you imagine doing that today. No way! And if you did show up at someone's house unannounced, you know what would happen. There would be a quick call made to the local pizza joint for carry out pizza.

So I remember Uncle Ben's farm that was just several hundred feet away from the Loramie Reservoir. In her memoir Edna Wise says that the reservoir was actually right behind their barn. I also do remember Uncle Ben as being a very nice and kindhearted gentleman. I know he was one of my Dad's favorite brother-in-laws. But honestly what I remember most about Aunt Genevieve is that she was built like Dolly Parton in the upper torso. In fact, she looked like Dolly Parton on steroids if you can envision that! Aunt Genevieve was a fine cook. She could take those fish that Uncle Ben caught and cleaned that very afternoon and fry them up so that they were scrumptious. Of course she had plenty of baked potatoes and garden vegetables to go with the meal.

You will not find Edna Wise's two books on since they are self-published and printed. You need to know someone who lives in Ohio who knows someone who knows Edna who can get you a copy of a book for eight dollars! My contact for the two books was my only sister, Mary Ellen who lives in Tipp City, Ohio but who has high school friends near Fort Laromie and Minster who helped her get her copies and my copies. Thank you Mary for sending these to me!

Here are the titles of the two memoirs:
Memories of a Farmer's Daughter During The Depression, by Edna Wise

What I Forgot the First Time, Sequel to Memories of a Farmer's Daughter During the Depression, by Edna Wise.

Soon as I heard these book titles I knew I had to get copies and read them. It seems like what goes around comes around again like the Great Depression. I enjoyed reading these books very much. They are written in the folksy style that Old Man Lincoln sometimes uses in his blogposts. And what intrigued me was the similarities of experiences Edna and I had growing up on an Ohio farm even though we were close to 17/18 years apart in age. Here are some of the topics Edna Wise writes about in her two books that I could really really relate to:

Gathering eggs from the chicken house in hem of skirt or apron.

Having a hen who wanted to peck your hand when you went for her eggs under her. Ouch!

Killing and cleaning a wild rabbit for fried rabbit dinner.

Memorizing poems in school.

Having Catholic catechism classes in a public school.

Using the outhouse after dark.

Spending the summers weeding the garden, picking wild berries and canning up fruit and vegetables from the big garden.

Cooking and baking on a big black wood coal stove and using a pot-bellied stove to heat the entire house.

Digging out a cellar for the existing farmhouse.

Using the corn crib in the summer as a playhouse.

Feeding the hobos that infrequently stopped by for food.

Knowing that all the neighbors could listen in to all your phone calls on the party line.

Being extra good when Dr. McCorkle, the Superintendent of Shelby County Schools, visited our classroom unannounced.

Finding sassafras root bark in the woods and using it to make sassafras tea.

Not sitting with our parents in church but up front under the watchful eye of the nuns.

Butchering hogs in the late winter and hanging the hams in the smoke house.

On butchering day having blood pudding made from the pig's blood.

Creating corn shocks after husking the corn in the field.

Keeping fish in the cow tank by the barn to grow larger before killing and eating.
Hearing about driving a team of horses down the road. Both my Mom and my older brother Paul did that. Now it sounds like a scene from that old TV series Little House on the Prairie.

I hope I didn't bore you with my Ohio farm stories of the 20'th century. Now please go visit some My World Tuesday blog memes featuring what's happening right now around the world in the 21'st century by clicking here:


erin said...

i enjoyed your post today...brings back some memories of my family in iowa and sharing stories with the elders at family reunions. we have a couple of little self-published books in our family and i do like to read through them.
thanks so for sharing with us...

Anonymous said...

Are these available in our local library? I would really love to read people memoirs, etc.

Isn't it exciting to trace our family tree?

Susie of Arabia said...

How cool that you have these pieces of your family's history. Not only are they of historical value, but I can see how much sentimental value they would hold for you as well. Very cool!

SandyCarlson said...

These are wonderful books. I am glad you have them. I hope they are in the local historical society, too. Those kinds of books are very important.

Thanks for sharing your history.

Guy D said...

You didn't bore me at all, that was a fun read.

Have a great week
Regina In Pictures

Maria said...

I read your Ohio farm story of the 20th centruy with great interest. I was also born on the farm in 1957 and spent my first years there. And after that, my mother maintained a big garden with all the vegetables and fruits we needed, and we always visited my aunt at her farm in summer to help them at harvest time or when they butchered pigs. Times long gone by...
Thank you for your visit on my blog. Schönbrunn has not changed much over the years since you visited, only the Zoo has!

Maria said...

Haha, I was not born on the farm in Ohio, but on a farm in Austria :))

fishing guy said...

Joan: What a neat history from the Ohio farm. It had to be neat for you to read the history of people you knew.

Arija said...

enjoyable post. It is always a thrill when you find part of your family history written down for you. Life in our time has changed so rapidly that it is worthwhile for most of us to write down our childhood memories.

Wanda said...

Oh my, I would love to read those too... just the few excerts brought back so many memories of my own.

This is the way I feel about reading my mom and dad's love letters written back in the 30's.

Love your post.

wendy said...

Hi! Joann, I'm Edna (Poeppelman) Wise's youngest daughter Wendy. Mom and I are both sitting here and mom wanted me to google Edna Poeppelman, so I did and we came across exciting! It really makes mom feel good knowing that others enjoy her books! It's really interesting reading other people's comments, and we were pleasantly surprised when we saw the pictures of her books. I will be checking back in to see what else is new.

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