The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Winifred Etta Truwe Brown

Interviews conducted by Ben Truwe with Winifred Etta Truwe Brown (1898-1999) summer 1990 at her apartment in Sunshine Terrace, East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Tapes transcribed and CDs burned 2002. Also on the tapes are Ben's wife Shelley Filipi Truwe, his daughters Anna Winifred Truwe and Matie Rose Truwe, and Shelley's parents Leo and Gladys Filipi.

Granny was the daughter of Benjamin Truwe and Bertha Martha Louisa Wiedenheft; she married Henry Wallace Brown (1894-1980) in 1920 and became the mother of Wallace Truwe Brown (1921-), Benjamin Ralph Brown (1922-1944), Martha Jeanne Brown Rassler (1926-2002), and Judy Brown (1940-1940).

side one

Granny: Well, y'know, my husband's sister [Allie Brown Copenhaver] is still living in Missouri. She'll be 97, or is it 98, I think, in January. So she's still living there; she's got a little house, she lives right next door to her daughter there—you've got that on, I bet [the tape recorder]. [Laughs]

Ben: Is that okay?

Granny: She's the last one of that family down there, I know. His folks came from Kentucky, and they lived in Missouri then for ever since. Got some relatives buried down there; we went and saw their graves last year, or this spring rather, and they were dated in the 1700s—father and mother, two little kids.

Ben: Really? Were they named Brown?

Granny: Brown, their name was Brown.

Ben: Where was that?

Granny: Just out of Macon, Missouri, down south.

Ben: In the 1700s? They must have been among the first people down there.

Granny: First ones. They came there with, well I know with a walnut wardrobe that they brought from Kentucky and one of the relatives down there has it; it's real, real old. y'know, they'd been in Kentucky first, then they moved down to Missouri. It's an old family down there. Not too many of them left; we saw a lot of the graves there, y'know, and that . . . but Harry's mother was, well, she moved to La Plata, Missouri, then later on, my husband went in the service, and he was sent to the Philippines for three years, came back, landed in San Francisco, or somewheres on the West Coast . . .

Ben: Yeah, we saw the picture yesterday of him and his buddies outside a bar, a saloon . . .

Granny: Yeah, then he came to Minneapolis; that's where I met him [Laughs]

Ben: Did I hear some story that you were a taxi dancer? Was this a joke?

Granny: No! [Laughs] No. I met him at a dance. That's where I met him.

Ben: But you weren't working there.

Granny: No. [Laughs] I was working at Powers Department Store. He was at the University of Minnesota. They trained the ROTC there. [HWB was an ROTC instructor at UMN from January 5, 1920 through May 5, 1924.] They used to take them to the east coast there at [Camp Eustis, Virginia]. . . I was trying to think of it . . . it's around Newport News there—the light artillery. They used to take the cadets there two months, about, every summer, or every other summer. He didn't have to go every summer. And he finally quit after we had a couple of children; bought out of the service—you could buy out of the service then, y'know.

Ben: So how did you meet? Were you introduced?

Granny: Well, one of his friends. He was with two or three of his friends and he . . . I danced with him and then one of his buddies came over and told me, why don't you give the guy a break [Laughs], y'know, he wants to know you and, y'know, he says I'll vouch for him. That's the way it was; I didn't know him any better than I did, y'know . . .

Ben: What were you dancing? Foxtrot?

Granny: Oh, foxtrot, and waltz—he was a very good waltzer—

Ben: Was it a live band?

Granny: Yeah, oh yeah, very alive. It was right across the street from the courthouse, so if they had any rowdies, they'd just take them over there and throw them in the jail. It was very well policed, I'll tell you that, you couldn't do anything there that . . . in fact, he became a bouncer there when he was still in the service at the University, and he used to work there several nights a week. When we started having a family and that, y'know . . . [Sigh] so we lasted [Laughs] . . . for sixty years.

Ben: It's hard to think now of a dance hall being across the street from the courthouse in downtown Minneapolis.

Granny: And if they'd get somebody that wanted to pick a fight or was obscene or something, y'know, that didn't treat the girls and that right, y'know, the girls that were there, why, they'd just take him over to the jail, put him in jail. Boy, they'd take out after people if they didn't behave themselves. You couldn't even dance close together. We were warned once.

Ben: So you were waltzing, but there was distance between you.

Granny: Hesitation waltz—he was good at that, y'know, you'd kinda stop, y'know, and go ahead again [Laughs] and he kind of tapped Harry on the shoulder and he says, "You're a good dancer, Buddy, but you can't dance like that here."

Ben: Too close.

Granny: Yeah, he was just too close. Hesitation, y'know, as you're dancing you hesitate. That's the way things were then. [Laughs] Like it is now, it's a whole lot different. It really is. Y'know, people were supposed to behave themselves, you're supposed to be dressed decently and everything, you couldn't go in those places, they looked you over good. Big dance hall, just like that one in Chicago, I think, they got to be kind of famous years ago, y'know, years ago, those big dance halls.

Ben: You've seen a lot of changes.

Granny: I had my first ride in an automobile when I was about ten years old or so. That was about, well, it must have been around 1908 or something like that, y'know. Rode to the next town, nine miles and back. Biggest thrill of my life at the time. I'd been on many buggies, horse and buggies, y'know.

Ben: Did your family have a buggy?

Granny: Yeah, yeah, my dad had one. I know we were moving one time, from the town out into the country, where we farmed . . . we used to spend the winters sometimes in town and then go out and farm in the summer. And this time my dad went out with my brother and he had the furniture and stuff in a big wagon, and we came with a horse and buggy behind them, and our horse got [Laughs] scared right in the middle of town and he just kicked and kicked until he kicked his shafts and that, broke it y'know, and Mother had to let loose of the reins, and the buggy tipped forward and we just went like this . . . and I landed on my face. It was frozen in the early spring and my face looked like somebody beat me up, y'know, I just went right along like that. Matie's back was hurt, not bad, from the fall and that. Mother seemed to be all right, but I think she hung onto the reins so long that the horses started to drag her before she thought to let loose of the reins, you know.

And so my father's boss had told him, he says to take me and Matie and Mother over to his house; he had a nice big house in town there. We spent I guess several days there and then Dad came with the same horse and he'd repaired the buggy. He pulled up and we came out of the house and I saw that horse and I just had a fit. I wouldn't go home. They had to lift me up and put me in the buggy I was so scared. [Laughs] Gosh, my head was still hurting. My Dad finally got angry and scolded me, and I got on the buggy then. Only way I knew it was the same horse was he had a big white spot on one side of his back. After that I was okay.

Ben: You must have been pretty well off to have a house in the country and a house in town.

Granny: No, we were renting the farm and then this man in town was, well he was the manager of a big ice house where they kept all the cases of beer, and my father goes and takes the orders, y'know, and then delivered the beer and stuff to the saloons and that and then we went out on his farm in the summer. We didn't do that all the time, but we did that for several years was all, and then we moved to town then. And I don't know just what my dad did after that for awhile there, until we moved to Minneapolis.

I was seventeen then when we moved to Minneapolis. And he drove a team of horses with a dray and he picked up the old Minneapolis Journal then deposited it on the corners, y'know, for the paperboys to come and that. He did that for quite a few years. He started out as a young man, I don't know whether he was a conductor or a motorman on a streetcar in St. Paul. They had lived down in Amboy, Minnesota and when he left the farm, well he was in St. Paul, was on that for several years and came back to Amboy and married my mother and they lived in several towns down in southern Minnesota there. I used to hear them talk about, y'know, different [towns]—of course I wasn't born then till later, but they moved back to Amboy, Minnesota, which was where I was born.

We did own a farm in Hancock, Minnesota there, when I went to . . . oh gosh, I spent my first years there . . . had to walk three miles to town or to school from the farm all winter long. Dad had to come and pick me up a few times during a snowstorm. My brother and sister would walk it, y'know. I had the same teacher there. During that time we went to town and I went to school in town in the wintertime and back to this little country school house and, gosh, I learned my ABC's there.

I was so shy that the teacher took me on her lap and I had to read to her away from the other kids for quite awhile before I had the nerve to even speak to the kids, y'know—not speak to kids, but I mean to speak where they could hear me. Several times we went back to that country school there and then after I quit school. I only went through the first grade of high school, what we called the high school, which was the ninth grade, and then I still had that shy or backward way of—I didn't make friends very easy. I liked to be home it seems quite a lot.

And then my dad decided we were moving to Minneapolis. I started working at Powers; I worked there for I think about four years, and I worked on Hennepin Avenue at the Liggett Drugstore after that. I was working at Powers; I was satisfied there, but this woman came and she asked me did you ever think of changing work, y'know going anywheres else. I said no, I hadn't. Well, she says, I had seen her standing there in the store, there, by the door there, a couple, two or three times and when she came over and approached me and she says well, we need clerks over at the drugstore, and I was wondering if you wouldn't like to maybe take a change. One day you work days, and the next day just the afternoon, a little higher wages than Powers, so I went over there.

Ben: How much were you making then?

Granny: Gosh, I can't even remember. But I do know when I started at Powers I was getting seven dollars a week as a bundle girl.

Ben: For a six-day week?

Granny: Six-day week. Nine to five.

Ben: What did a bundle girl do?

Granny: Wrapped bundles. [Laughs] And I did that for two weeks, and then they came and put me in the hospital supplies in the drugstore department. And I worked there for a couple of months and then they put me up in the cosmetics. And that's where I stayed until I quit there and then went over to Liggett's.

Ben: What kind of cosmetics were people using?

Granny: Gosh, let's see. I had a demonstration of Yardley's of London. They still sell Yardley's stuff now, y'know. Coty's are still selling their face powders in the very same round boxes, same design on them as they had, now you can see them in the store. Haven't changed the box.

Ben: So what did you do at Liggett's?

Granny: I worked in the, it was cosmetics and all kinds of things that pertains to feminine, or men's things.

Ben: Was this before they had self-service stores like they have now?

Granny: Oh yeah, you waited on everybody. [Laughs]

Ben: Were you encouraged to sell people things, or were you just supposed to give them what they wanted?

Granny: Oh, yeah. Well, when you had a demonstration, you were supposed to sell what you were working, so I was getting paid by Yardley's of London at Powers, y'know, and then you were supposed to sell as much of their stuff as you could because they were paying you then. Powers wasn't paying you. Several women, there were two or three of them I think—I know my boss, the assistant buyer, she was selling Melba cosmetics and stuff like that and the buyer came by one day and she was on a buying trip or vacation and she was working with me at this counter and he came up and looked through her book and he says, "You aren't selling any Melba products." And I said, "Well, I'm not getting paid for them; I'm getting paid for selling Yardley." And he gave me—oh, he was a handsome man, such a stern looking face—he just laughed.

Ben: Did you work any more after Liggett's?

Granny: No, I didn't.

Ben: That was your last job? You've just been loafing ever since?

Granny: Just been loafing ever since. Come on, that's not loafing! Gee, I worked hard in my life. [Laughs]

Ben: I guess housekeeping was a lot different.

Granny: Oh, heavens, yes. It was much worse in my mother's day. Gosh, she had to work on the farm and Dad would say at eleven o'clock, "Ma, you'd better go to the house and make lunch." She'd go and make lunch and they'd rest an hour and back to work in the fields again.

Ben: So she had to work in the fields and the house.

Granny: Yeah, she worked in the fields. And my brother and sister did too, y'know.

Ben: What were they doing in the fields? What were your crops?

Granny: Oh, making hay, planting oats, wheat, barley, do all that, y'know. She had chickens, turkeys—a lot of work. Everything was done with horses, and, y'know, on a farm you have animals—in those days the manure you had to put on the field; you didn't have the kind you have now, and that all had to be spread. You did your own butchering in the fall, your meat, your pork and beef, you have to put it up, smoke the meat, fry your sausage and pack it down in lard that it was cooked in. The fat came out of it, you'd put it in big crocks and put the patties of the meat in and you kept pouring the fat off until you had a jar full and then that kept in your cellar, hard as lard could be.

Ben: So you were trying to be self-sufficient?

Granny: Well, that's what they had to do then; that's what my mother and father did. I was a kid then.

Ben: But you tried to raise everything you ate and then you had other cash crops.

Granny: Yeah, you had gardens. Your garden and your vegetables, you put your vegetables up and cabbage and carrots you put down in the cellar, put sand on it or something over it. You didn't can as much of the stuff as you do now. Made sauerkraut with most of the cabbage. The other cabbage you could keep the heads but before spring came there wouldn't be so much of it left; you'd have to take a lot of the leaves off and that. People don't know now what it is to. . . .

Ben: We've done a lot of that stuff, but it's for fun. We don't have to.

Granny: It's more or less a hobby now; you do a little of it and you get a satisfaction out of it, y'know. Golly, when I think of how folks were . . . well not all women on farms did as much work, but Mother seemed to—well, Dad would say we've got to do this or that; she did it. Did big washing with a washboard and that, have to haul water sometimes, y'know, from the pump to the house to put it in the big boiler that they had on top of the stove and then she'd wash the clothes and put them up in the boiler and boil the clothes. I think now you wouldn't dare to put your clothes in a laundromat with boiling water.

Ben: What did you do after it was too dark to work?

Granny: I can remember my mother sitting and reading to us. Dad liked to have her read in the evening.

Ben: What did she read?

Granny: Well, just little stories that would appear in the papers, or if they'd get ahold of a book of some kind, just a simple book; sometimes she'd read the Bible. But my grandparents, they had every evening after supper they'd sit in the living room for awhile and then Grandma [Anna Salfisberg Truwe] would pray and we'd sing songs; one of my aunts could play the organ a little and they'd have a little sermon and then Grandma would talk or Grandpa [Benedict Truwe] led the prayers, and you knelt down in front of your chairs and you'd pray. And it was about maybe fifteen minutes, every night. Grandma Truwe. And they went to church on Sunday. If Grandpa could get out of it he would. But of course I only knew then when we'd go there; I never was there very much, only three or four times that I know of, y'know we'd go on the train to see Grandma and Grandpa, visit with the relatives, you know.

Ben: So this was only at their house that you prayed every evening.

Granny: Yeah, my father says, Mother would ask him, "Let's go to church today," and he says, "I had a lot of church when I was living at home." Until he was about 24 I guess or something like that. And he says, "I've had enough church to last me." [Laughs] But, y'know, it's kind of odd in a way too, but . . .

Ben: That was unusual in those days?

Granny: Yeah, I think so. You see, they were a big family. There were nine children in the family, y'know, in the immediate family, and when the kids got married they all lived in that same area on farms, one of them or two of them lived in town, I guess, I don't know just what they did. There were so many of them, I think there were thirty of us first cousins in that town, just a small town, and one day my dad says to my mother, "We're moving out of here, there's just too many hmmm-hmmmm relatives. Everybody knows each other's business." And there'd be a little turmoil, y'know.

Ben: Well, he'd have trouble getting his daughters married, too, wouldn't he?

Granny: [laughs] Well, I don't know, my father had his sister married—no not married, well, I'll put it this way. My mother's sister married my dad's brother and then my dad's brother married my mother's sister and then another brother of Mother's married Dad's sister. So there's three in the family that married—my Dad says, "When I jumped over the fence then afterwards three of them else did."

And then Mother's [brother] Uncle Bill [Wiedenheft] went with Dad's sister, Aunt Rose [Truwe]—for all their lives. And when she was old and didn't have anybody to look after her (she had a couple of brothers, but they weren't interested), but when she got old and was bedridden, my Uncle Bill went and lived with her and took care of her. Got her up (she had no bathroom in the house at the time, in that part of the house) and did everything. Bathed her, and he was getting old and had asthma so bad, he sat in the chair. He had a chair with some cushions in it, and he slept in that until she died. And he died before the year was out. She always said she couldn't get married because the folks needed her and of course it just got to be . . . you didn't marry then, y'know. Then at last when she needed help, he went and took care of her, which I thought was—that was something.

Those three old maid sisters were supposed to, but Grandpa said to the two younger sons that those girls had their home there and they could never put them out, that that was their home and they had enough money and that to live until they were gone, y'know. When Grandpa [Truwe] made his will they all got something. Everybody got something, but the stipulation was that they live in that house until they died. There was three old maids: Sarah, Lydia and Rose. The oldest one—oh, a lovely woman, she was a lovely person—Grandma had a stroke quite, she wasn't very old y'know, she must have been about sixty or something, but she lived quite a long time after, and that's about all she did was just take care of Grandma. And the others, too, Rose, did most of the housework. Lydia was kind of helpless; I think she was just a little bit [tetched]—y'know. And she never had much to say to anybody—except sit in a rocking chair and kind of . . . go like that, y'know. She seemed to be kind of—not confused, but I don't know—the other two took care of Grandma.

Ben: So is Rose where Matie Rose [Truwe] got her middle name?

Granny: Yeah, I think maybe that's why Matie Rose's middle name was Rose. But they always said that I looked like Rose. And Matie used to call me "Rosie Curl-Up Lip." I had a short upper lip, y'know.

Ben: And Matie was named after one of your father's girlfriends. Is that right?

Granny: No, I don't know. Did Matie say that?

Ben: Yes, she did.

Granny: I know where I got my name. Winifred, from a book that Mother was reading to the family, or to Dad. I suppose my brother and sister were too young to—you know. I asked her one time and she says, "I read a book, and the heroine of the book was such a nice girl." She liked the name, and when I was born, that's what I got. That was my name. But where the Etta came in, I don't know.

But Harry's—my husband's—mother's name was Mary Etta [Terrell Brown]. Her second name was Etta, too. That was a name that I think a lot of people used in those days, one of the old names, you know. I don't think you see that very much anymore.

But a shock I kind of had one time was when Martha [Jeanne Brown Rassler] and Herman [Donald Rassler] came up to get me up here at Wallace's, to take me home and we went through in Iowa where Herman's sister lives and then to southern Minnesota, and Martha wanted to know where my grandfather's home was in Amboy, and we went there looking for it and it was gone. The house was gone, there was nothing. They had a lovely—well, one of the new brick barns that had ever been built around there. Nice big barn, the whole thing was gone. And the house, the oldest part of the house—there was a new part built on—and the oldest part was a huge kitchen and then a living room and off the living room was a—well, it could have been used as a dining room—the kitchen was big so it had the big dining room table in there and everything—the sitting room and then a parlor that you sat in sometimes on Sundays, y'know. And then a couple of bedrooms upstairs. And that living room that we sat in so much was the first part of the house that was ever—it started out as a log cabin that my father was born in. When they built the house they built it around that log cabin. That was still there [inside the house].

Ben: So the log cabin was still there in Amboy, but the rest of the house was gone?

Granny: No, when the house was torn down the log cabin went with it. See it was just built right around that log cabin. And I always hoped that if they tore the house down that they would keep the remnants of the log cabin. When everything was gone it was like something was really gone from your life, you know. And I hadn't been there very much myself, because we moved away from there when I was 2, and most of this is from what my parents talked to me about.

Ben: Would that have been the cabin where the Indians . . .

Granny: Yeah, and Mother told about when my father was a baby in a cradle and his mother had baked bread in the fireplace evidently, and had it up on the mantle and there was three or four Indians walked right in and motioned to her that they wanted that bread. And they picked Grandpa [her father] up by the foot and made motions that they were going to—[telephone rings]

Dorothy—I thought it was Dorothy Fey. It was Dorothy Antoine. She had a cancer operation; she had one breast removed. And George had cancer in his ear. She's the only one of her family left, y'know, there was only the two kids, y'know, she and her brother. His wife is one who lives up here, Vivian Truwe. He had that lumber mart up here [in Grand Forks] before, y'know; that's when Harry Truwe lost most of his money.

But Dorothy was the one that took care of Matie all the time, y'know, and she'd go to work way up north in Minneapolis, and then she'd stop either the morning or the evening every day. And the telephone operator got her one night when she [Matie] had one of her strokes. We finally had coaxed her to get a phone up in her bedroom in that house—you were there [3740 25th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Bought circa 1920, the Browns lived there until they moved to 31st Avenue and 43rd Street circa 1928. John and Matie Huebner lived there until Matie moved to a nursing home in the early 1980s.]—and she rolled out of bed and had ahold of the cord, pulled it down and got her mouth up to it. And tried to talk and the operator said, "Are you in trouble?" "Yaaaa." "Now, take your time, and give me one number at a time, the best you can," you know. And then she called Dorothy, because Dorothy had her number, y'know, and that, and Dorothy and George went over there and got her back into bed and said, "We're going to take you to the hospital." "Oh, no, you're not," she says, "I'm not going." They said, "You're going." And you know, she got back home.

Then, of course, later she had to go to the nursing home anyway, but—a number of years there that Dorothy did that. There was nobody else there. I came back once. Wallace called, and he says, "I think you'd better come back and see Matie," he says. "At once. Because I don't think she's gonna—" She was still at the house then. My gosh. She wanted to go over to Harry Truwe's wife [that] he married after Ruth died. Her house was on the next block. And I betcha we stopped a half a dozen times and just stood so she could get her breath. Even with a pacemaker, y'know, to get over there and to come back. Boy, was I glad when I got her back to the house. Maybe you'd better go eat supper.

Ben: But you have to finish the story about the Indians.

Granny: Oh. Well, they just got onto Grandpa by the leg and made motions like they were going to slam him against the fireplace there if they didn't get the bread, and she just reached up and grabbed all the bread and gave it to them. They took the bread and dropped him back in the crib and left. That must have been 1863 or '64. 'Sixty-three it must have been, because his birthday was in January.

Ben: Was there a lot of Indian trouble then?

Granny: No, it was more just roaming little bands, and if they were hungry or something or wanted something then they got people . . . I think right down around there it was pretty well settled then and I think there weren't any bigger bands, just roving little tribes—not tribes, but small bunches that were going around seeing what they could get, y'know, from people. Well, that's about all about the Indians that they told. [Laughs]

side two

Granny: [Looking at a picture of Matie] . . . and on the back of it it says "Ten years old" but gee, she looks older than ten, doesn't she? To me she does.

Ben: I suppose she could have been wrong.

Granny: Well, I don't know; they had it right on the back. And it looks like her writing.

Ben: Looks like your writing too.

Granny: Much better than mine. And that's one of me when I was about ten. Y'know, I had hair then; I had braids all around my head, y'know. And that little bitty one, that's Grandma Truwe, my grandma. Anna [Salfisberg] Truwe, mother of Benjamin Truwe. She was real old there. She was kind of a dignified person. She had a stroke. She was pretty much up in her years when she got it. And she had gone to church that morning—it was just a short ways from their place—and they had walked home and they said when she got out of the church and she got to the corner she turned right around stood and looked and looked at the church. They said she'd never done that before. And then she went home and a very short time after that she had her stroke and she couldn't go to the church anymore. And they went all their lives. I don't know whether Grandpa did or not.

[Looking at picture of Bloomington house] And we had those trees brought in, and they were on a stone boat—it's made out of wood, y'know, and they pull it behind a car or tractor in the fields and that—and the guy that lived across on the other side of the crick put them in. Oh, the last time I saw them they were so big, really big. It was kind of a cozy little place.

Ben: That was in Bloomington.

Granny: Yeah. It was about 99th Street [9940 Maple Avenue]. We figured it out. Harry says, "I'll get my pension . . ." And I get a compensation check from the government.

Ben: For Benny [her son Benjamin Ralph Brown, killed in a train wreck returning to Europe in 1944].

Granny: For Benny. And it started out at $24.90. And I got two of them because he had two $5,000 policies. And a few years ago instead of $24.90 they said they had accumulated money and each one would be worth thirty-seven something. And then just a couple of months ago I got another notice from them that they went up to forty something. So instead of seventy dollars and seventy-four cents it's gone up to eighty-three dollars for the two.

'Cause we knew he [Harry] was sick and we went down . . . we got the papers to fill out, y'know, and we went to the Red Cross, because they called right away and said, "Come down, oh, we'll help you. (He [Benny] was one of the first ones that they had a funeral for, from overseas.) And we'll make out all your papers for you." And we got there and the woman was talking on the phone, the one that took care of those things. And she was talking to another woman and she was talking so, kind of nasty, about the people that come in. "They don't know a thing," and this and that. So when she came to us she looked and said, "You don't need that one. You don't need that one there. You don't need this one." She kept throwing the papers. And by that time I was burning, and I looked at Harry and he looked at me and he says, "Come on, let's go." We didn't even say goodbye to her; we walked out, went over to the headquarters of the American Legion. And the man said, "I'll take you right over. We've had a woman trained to take care of that." When those things were going on, y'know. When the boys were getting killed. And he says, "She knows all about it." We went over and she went through the papers: "What happened to this one? What happened to that one?" And then she came to the one for the dependency, you know. Harry was working then. She says, "You don't know when you might become disabled and can't work and then you'd have some more income."

Well, that's what happened. And so we had that. And then he had a little pension. So Dad always said, "Well, now, with that, and my Social Security, and the compensation, you can get along real good."

Well, the first thing he did when he—a guy at the Veterans Administration in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, he says, "Oh, they wrote me a letter; I went to apply for the things and your income is enough you don't need your husband's pension." So I didn't get that.

Ben: So was it enough to live on?

Granny: Yeah, it was. And then when Harry's eyes got bad [toward the end], y'know, and he was blind, the ophthalmologist said—he wasn't taking care of himself, he was taking a lot of aspirin tablets and he was bleeding internally—they put him in the hospital for that first operation and it wasn't even any good because he said you were bleeding, all your little capillaries and everything died, so then he had him declared legally blind.

So—things worked out all right. Of course, I was older then too and couldn't work anymore. Hadn't worked for a long time.

And every few years I get this letter, and then I have to put in what my—have to give them a statement of my finances of course, y'know, and one of them is you've got to tell them what your previous month's expenses and bills are, you know. And then you've got to multiply that by twelve and that gets you what your income is, and if they think you've got enough to get along on they'll take your compensation check away from you. I didn't get the change of address out at Martha's last year; they send you a letter and you have to tell them, y'know, if you're still—living and everything. And they cut my compensation check off. I was getting seventy-five dollars a month then. And it took us two months to get it back again. Had to tell them, y'know, all the circumstances and everything. It's a lot of—but to have them write you a letter and tell you that we have—you see I took that ten thousand in a life expectancy and they figured $49.80 for each one. And somebody says, "Well, why don't you take it and put it in the bank?" And I knew it might not stay in the bank, you know. And I've been getting it ever since.

And now here [at Sunshine Terrace], when the lady comes around every year, the director of the place, and she asks you if you've gotten any more since the last time she was around, y'know, if you make any money you better to declare it.

Ben: So you're keeping track of your bingo winnings for that.

Granny: No, I'm not. Y'know, Martha, she went down—I think when she was applying for Social Security—no it wasn't, it was for taxes, y'know, and this woman says, "You put down what you make [gambling] in." And Martha says, "No, I haven't." And she says, "If you gamble you have to put your winnings in." And Martha says, "No, you don't." But she says, "Oh yes, you do." And Martha says, "Well, then we can declare what we've lost too?" you know.

Then one time we were over at the Gold Strike [Casino]—we always stop for supper there when we're down shopping at Henderson—on Tuesday or Thursday I always ate free. Because I'm their mother—what do you call it—senior citizens. A senior citizen's mother can eat free. And we were in there, and Martha was playing, and she got a royal on the slot machine. She was playing on it and she had run up, Herman said, about four hundred quarters. But when she won that she didn't have that much in the cup—eleven hundred and fifty dollars, I think it is, and you don't have to put it in [your income tax return]. And he said, "You've got to get rid of those quarters," and he made her play that machine until she'd lost all of those quarters so they wouldn't have to pay the tax on the eleven hundred and some dollars. So after that we were in there one night and she had two big buckets of quarters. She kept taking them out of that tray, y'know, and putting them in there in case she got a jackpot.

But one time at the Rainbow, she and I were there, I had won several—I knew how much I could spend and what I couldn't, y'know, I had to be that way 'cause you don't know what could happen. And this guy would come; he'd say I could have twelve hundred dollars, win twelve hundred dollars on a jackpot, y'know, but anything more than that and you've got to pay tax on the whole thing.

But one time we were there and I had fallen. I was going to step up from the curb; it was a little high and instead of getting my foot up high enough I caught my foot and I stumbled and I cracked the big bone here and I was wearing a slip and—I got a jackpot. She and I were playing the quarter machines and we were sitting a little ways from each other and I was getting quite a few quarters. She says, "Mother, the man just got up from the corner there, and it's been really paying. Why don't you go over there and sit and play?" So I gathered up my quarters and went over there and I put quarters in—five quarters—about five times—and I got the jackpot. It was progressive, twenty-one hundred dollars. So the guy come round and he says, "Well," he says, "let's have your driver's license." I says, "Are you kidding? I never drove a car in my life." "Well, let's have your Social Security card." Well, I got that out and gave it to him, and while I was waiting for the money I turned around to another machine and I put five quarters in and I got a straight flush! That was sixty-five dollars. Well, then, a week later we thought we'd go down. I put some of that in the bank, and we took some money and we went down again one morning, and I repeated it! I got a royal flush! And it was after that first time that I hurt my arm. And when I left the house I took everything out of it [her purse] but my money and left it at home, so I had no idea I was going to make another jackpot. When he asked me then for identification I looked at Martha, and, "Martha," I says, "Go home and get my identification." So when he came over he looked at me and said, "You again?" While I was waiting I put five quarters in another machine and I got another straight flush. I'm telling you, I just thought there was something wrong. [To Anna] Didn't you think something was wrong when you won five games [of bingo]?

Anna: No.

Granny: You expected it.

Ben: She's used to it. She takes after her great-grandmother. She is a lucky kid. And she's good at games too, but her beginner's luck is something to be feared.

Anna: I've played bingo before.

Granny: When I was back there with Richard, oh I went back last winter and stayed till spring—they were going to bring me home, y'know—and, so we were down there at the Gold Strike one evening and I said to Martha, I says—I was playing two or three quarters or sometimes even one if the machine didn't seem to pay very good—and I says, "I'm going to play five quarters this time." And I played a little while, but I had about, gosh, I think I had about twenty dollars worth of quarters, I'd been winning a little, y'know, and I got ace-king-queen-jack of diamonds. Came right up there like that. And the ten of—I think it was the ten of spades. And the guy comes and "Gee," he says, "Good for you—you might have to wait quite a while for your money." He said, "They're working on somebody else." I said, "Oh, I can't. We have to go." Because they were working at the dam and they were closing it down at night. After eight o'clock you couldn't go through. They were working at night instead of the days, y'know, there on the thing. I don't know how many million dollars just for one little place, right down near the dam, right close to the dam, just to cut out a little extra curb that was in the road. I think they had quite a few accidents there. And they worked, oh, gosh, about a year on that. So he says, "Oh, I'll get your money then right away." I wandered around on the other side of this row of machines and then I sat down and I put three quarters in the machine. I got another royal [flush]. A spade royal. He came over there and he looks, says, "Did you only have three quarters in there?" I says, "Yes." "What's the matter with you?" [Laughs] Well, that was only a hundred and—it was a little better than two hundred dollars, I think. It makes a big difference between what you get, you know.

One time we were out and she came over to where I was and said, "How are you doing?" And I says, "Not too good." And, y'know, she always increased me, she says, "If you're going to play it put five in because you put in two and get a jackpot you don't get anything really." So while she was talking to me there she stuck a quarter in a machine [laughs] and she got a royal! And did I razz her! "Oh well," she says, "that's about a hundred dollars." And she was increasing me all the time.

But I get just as much of a kick out of it to go down and play bingo down here as to—y'know—play a machine. And it's just as much fun.

Ben: Matie told me a little bit of the story of the first Ben Truwe. Is very much known about when and where that happened?

Granny: No, but according to the one that told Matie, and she told me, it was somewhere along the border of Switzerland and France where the boy was found.

Ben: He wasn't a baby?

Granny: No, he wasn't a baby, I think he was just a young boy, and I think she said he was lost. And they took him probably to an orphanage or something they had and the name derived from—they called him a foundling. And they took that as his name.

Ben: Found in French is trouvé.

Granny: Yeah, that's it. And this woman gave Matie a list, and it's spelled each one, it seems, a little bit different. But still you pronounce it just the same way. And how it ended up like this I don't know.

Ben: Maybe it came through German somehow, because "w" is pronounced "v" in German. And they also speak German in Switzerland.

Granny: Yeah. But it's a little different, because when Mother and Dad—we used to go visit sometimes—at the farm to Grandma and Grandpa's, and my father, Benjamin, had kind of forgotten how to speak German, but Mother would try to talk to Grandpa there, and then some of them would kind of laugh at her, because she was speaking German and Grandpa was speaking Swiss, and they say they'd kind of get mixed up with their words talking back and forth. So there is a difference. But of course there's a difference in Germany too. I don't know how many dialects there are there. Dad used to tell Mother that sometimes. He'd say, "Oh, you're a low German." [Laughs] He could get her going, y'know, my dad.

Ben: Those are the names of the dialects. There's Low German and High German.

Granny: Yeah, I guess so. "I am high German," he'd say. What the difference is, I don't know.

Ben: Now, was your grandfather Truwe, did he come over from Switzerland?

Granny: Yeah.

Ben: And then he and his brothers fought in the Civil War?

Granny: No, I don't think they did. [Three of the Truwe brothers served, but not Benedict.] My dad was born just when the war was over with. [Actually, he was born in 1863.] His older sister, the man she was married to, Fred Busse, was in the war. [Elizabeth Truwe married H. William Busse; their son was Fred Busse.] There were nine kids in [my] Grandpa's family, and in the beginning, well, before I was born, after my father and mother got married they lived in a little town, I don't know whether it was Good Thunder [Minnesota]—Good Thunder was the town where Mother was born—and, well, they had Matie. They didn't have Harry yet. Matie was little bit of a crawling baby, and Dad and his younger brother had a livery stable, a livery barn. It rented out horses and used drays to haul people's things, y'know. And Mother had a little restaurant. And they used to talk about [how] Matie was crazy for bananas. And Dad had to built a little gate between—they had like a little halfway store and a little restaurant combination. They had bananas in the window, one of those great big things, y'know. And she would crawl out and climb up and try to get the bananas down, you know. Of course, Mother couldn't have her in that part, so Dad said he had to build a little gate to keep her out of there. [Laughs] And then, well, Dad's younger brother started gambling and things went from bad to worse. And about that time there was kind of a depression. I think Cleveland was president then.

Ben: I think there was a panic in '93 that was really bad.

Granny: Well, this was before that, then, because I wasn't born yet. [She was born in 1898.] And they lost everything. The livery barn and the restaurant and all. And Mother would tell the story of how the morning that they left she said they didn't have anything to eat. She had flour and water and a little salt I guess or something and she made pancakes with that for them to eat. And then I suppose they had a wagon or a—well, it's like your trucks now, only it's a wagon with a spring seat up on top front, y'know—and they went back to Amboy and he borrowed some money from Grandpa, and I don't know what he did there in Amboy then. Then I was born there, shortly after that.

Ben: That would be like the Israelites making their unleavened bread as they escaped Egypt.

Granny: Yeah, I suppose so. She said they didn't have another darn thing, she said.

Ben: That was leaving Good Thunder.

Granny: Yeah.

Ben: Did the restaurant have a name?

Granny: I don't remember that. It probably didn't. Maybe just had "Eats" or something. No, they wouldn't just say "eats" then, I suppose. But they went back to Amboy, and then when I was about three I think, they decided to go somewheres else and that's when they went up to west-central Minnesota. And I was reading an article about prairies; talk about your prairies. You'd hear the wind howling, and—Morris, it's not too far from the Dakota border. Hancock and Morris. Well, Hancock was a littler town; that was closer. And they rented a farm from a preacher, Mr. Arndt. And Grandpa, my dad, worked at shares.

Well, golly, I started school from there. I was six years old; and they had a little school; I walked three miles . . . one day we was walking along and there was one boy, big, tall guy, and he was going to school and he wasn't learning anything, you know. He was nice, kind of shy, and he evidently knew that he wasn't, y'know, just right. And he had picked up a long stick; if I remember right it was about this big around and he was walking along like the kids would and that and swinging it around and I walked right into it. I went down like a poleaxed [Laughs]—hit me right here. And that poor guy! Matie and the other kids, y'know, were all going in the same direction back home, and we stopped at a neighbor's and washed my face, and got home, and later on that afternoon, this couple that this was their son, they came over, and my gosh, when they saw me, oh, they were apologizing and this and that, y'know. And the poor guy, y'know.

And at school—I don't think I stayed home more than a day or two, and y'know, if I'd bend over to pick up something you know how all the blood goes to your head—and the schoolteacher, every time she'd see him, she'd say, "Look at Winnie. You should know what you're doing. Look what you've done to her." The rest of the kids were all in this one-room schoolhouse. All it had was this one room, and then there was a little entryway, and there was a farm across there, and somebody, always one of the boys, had to go to that farm and get a bucket of water. And we had a dipper; everybody used that same dipper. I used to think, "Oh, gosh . . ."

And that poor kid. I felt sorry for him. She'd look at him and look at me, she'd say something. I'd feel so bad for him, y'know. She'd try to teach him and sometimes get him to talk. He could read a little bit, and he would stutter. And she would stand by him and hold him by one finger real hard, to give him a little boost of some kind, I guess, you know. And she worked so hard with him but it didn't do much good, poor guy, to get him up there [in front of the class]. And y'know, he had enough sense he knew he wasn't—right, you know.

Later, when we had gone to Morris then, and lived for awhile, and we came back, and we were living on a farm that was our own then afterwards, and I went to eighth grade then at that little school. And then she talked to the folks and she says, "I want Winnie to come and live with my mother when I'm teaching out here." And she says, "She's going to go to high school in town." And I worked for my room and board there in town, and went to school.

And the first day of school I came home and this woman's two nieces walked home with me, and I had to get the coal in and the kindling and everything, and get everything going for supper. Get the fire started. And they came in the house, and their grandma talked to them and that. And the teacher came home on weekends, y'know, and she came to me and said to me once, "Now, Winnie, I don't want you to have anything to do with them." Bernice and Doris. And I felt like, well, am I not good enough? And she says, "They're not nice girls. I don't want you to have anything to do with them." [Sisters Bernice and Dorris appear in the 1910 Census of Hancock, the oldest of the six children of Earl and Lucy Fenton. In 1912 they would have been 15 and 12 years old.] And then she'd give me directions what I should do. "Now don't let Mother (in the winter) go on that (they had a door that you went upstairs—that old lady, she was way up in her eighties; a little frail thing) and don't let her go in there. If she needs butter or eggs or anything from in there, you get it for her in the morning before you go to school." Well, the old lady wouldn't tell me and when I'd come home, why, she'd have something fixed with eggs y'know and that, or make a little pudding, and I says, "You've been in there." And she just laughs. "Oh," she says. I can't remember what her name was now.

And then I slept upstairs, and Matie and John [Huebner] came and took me home one time, just after they got married [in 1912]. And she came to the door and John and Matie were in the buggy, ready to go back—oh, no, they were just going together then, that was it. And she came and let me in. And she had a hatchet in her hand, I think it was. And the next time John came out, why, he says, "Winnie, how can you live there with her? She's like—you're going to find her dead in bed one of these days." I was scared to death.

Ben: He thought they'd find you [murdered] in bed?

Granny: No. He says you'll find the old lady in bed dead.

Ben: Just because she was old.

Granny: Yeah. [Laughs] I said afterwards to Matie, "What a thing to say." I was feeling awful—the first couple of nights I slept there, I was upstairs, gosh, I nearly froze to death, it was ice cold up there, y'know. And I was rolling around trying to get warmed up and I rolled myself right out of bed to the floor. In the morning I thought she'd say something, because whammo! I think all there was was a little thin rug, y'know, on the wooden floor. She never said a word, so evidently she didn't hear me.

And then I was so lonesome, and her daughter wouldn't let me go anywheres, after school. I had to be right there, and she'd give me directions, and the old lady wouldn't like sometimes to let me go away with some of the other kids a little bit, but the old lady wouldn't let me have any kids come with me to—well, I was only fourteen years old, and I didn't have—well, I got acquainted with the other girls and that, but I never went anywheres with them or did anything. The kids would get together after school and play and things like that—I had work to do, and I was so lonesome that next year—and the teacher was—she was from Minneapolis, and she was sarcastic—she was talking one day about people advertising in the newspapers and that. And she stood up there and she says, "I assume that some of you have probably seen a Minneapolis paper." And then we'd look at each other and kind of grin. And then one day, well, I had volunteered [before] y'know, when they'd say put your hand up and this and that—and she'd never call on me, and then this time she looked at me and said, "Well! You're volunteering." And I had volunteered before, and I got so nervous I almost didn't know what I was going to say then. And I hated her so, that I just threw a tantrum. "I'm not going back to school next year. I'm not going back." And then, of course, you never go again.

Ben: So you didn't? So the next year you were living at home again?

Granny: That's when we came up to Minneapolis, after that. Oh, we went to Minneapolis [after] about a year or two. I was seventeen then.

Ben: That was in Amboy still.

Granny: No, that was at Hancock. I wouldn't go back to school anymore. Oh, I often—

Ben: Couldn't you go back to school in Minneapolis?

Granny: Yeah, I could have, but I had been out for a year or more.

Ben: Oh, so you were an old lady by then.

Granny: Yeah. When I got there, well, I got work right away; a friend told me to come down to Powers, y'know. She says, "I know I can get you in." And when I went there, she didn't say I should come to her. So I went down and I went right up to the superintendent on the second floor, and he asked me questions and that, and wrote things down, and he says, "Well, if we have anything, we'll let you know." Y'know, like they do—so I went home. She called up. She says, "Where have you been!? I've been waiting for you." I says, "Well, I was down; I didn't see you, so I went up there and they said they didn't need anybody." She says, "You get back here!" She was kind of a tough little character. She used to live at the same place we did, y'know, around Hancock there, but they had moved to Minneapolis quite awhile before, and she was working there. And she says, "You get back down here right away."

And I got back there and she took me over to there, what they called the floorwalkers, they walked around on the floor with a flower in their buttonhole, y'know, and—"This is the girl I told you about." So he says, "Okay," and he reached over and they had these big rolls of paper, y'know, on the counters where they—and he just tore a little piece off, about this size, and wrote something and folded it, and handed it to me and said, "Take it up to the superintendent."

And how I hated to go up there and face that same guy again, and he looked at me so funny! And I says, "Mr. Pomeroy said I should give you that." He took—looked at that—on the way up the stairs to the second floor I'd peeked, and all it said was, "OK. Pomeroy." And he says, "Take your things here—your coat and hat—down to the lockers in the basement and report to—it was the, oh, the silks and the goods—materials and that, you know. And he says, "You'll be a bundle girl."

Ben: So what did a bundle girl do?

Granny: [Laughs] I went there and I said something to one of the women there, and she said, "Oh, you just wrap the packages for us when we put the stuff on the little bit between the two rows of counters there." And they handed the things up to you and you wrapped the bundles.

Ben: So everything was wrapped instead of, like, bagged?

Granny: Yeah, everything was wrapped. Tied with string. And I lasted two weeks, and then somebody came around and they wanted a clerk in the hospital supplies. So I went over there and I thought, "Heavens, I don't know a thing about hospital supplies." And another woman that was clerking there, she was a French woman, and I told her, "I don't know anything about hospital supplies." She says, "Just ask me, and I'll show you where things are, and you'll get used to it in no time." And one day somebody came in and they wanted something, and I kinda called out, and this woman, she says, "Would you please keep your mouth down when you're asking for things? Don't you know what they are?" I says, "No, I don't." And it was something women had, you know. [Laughs] That was all right then. We got along real good for a couple of months and—no, about a month—and one of the ones from up in the office—the soupnuts—no, not the superintendents, but one of the others from the office upstairs came down, and he says, "I want you to report over to Central High School," he says, "going to school over there, mornings, then you come to work in the afternoon." So I went three, four times, and we were learning about textiles, you know. And I was there about three, four days, and I came back in the afternoon, and the buyer of the drug department came up and he says, "Where have you been!" And I says, "I've been to school." He says, "To school! Why?" I says, "Well, they came down from the office and told me I was to go to school, so I've been going to school mornings." He looked at me and he says, "If I want any of my girls to go [to] school, I'll tell them when to go." And he marched up to the office. [Laughs] I didn't go to school any more! So I was there, oh, maybe about six months, I think.

Then the assistant buyer, she had a big display up in the front of the store there, with all the perfumes and the fancy soaps and the ivory ware and all that, and she came down to me and she pulls me over and she says, "I want you to come up and work with me." She had a new girl up there, she was a little Jewish girl. She says, "I won't work with a Jew." Can you imagine? Now, that's what we had to go through. "Won't work with a Jew," she says. "You come up with me." I didn't know what to say. So they put her down where I was, and I had to go up there and work with her. She did most of the ordering and everything, y'know, like that.

And he [Pomeroy] was a good man to work for. He came up to me shortly after I started working; I was still in the hospital supplies, and he says, "Have you gotten a raise yet?" I said, "No." He says, "You mean you're just getting seven dollars a week?" That's what I started at. [To Anna] And you made almost that much tonight [at bingo]. [Laughs] So the next weekend he came to me again, he says, "Did you get your raise?" I says, "No." And he marched off, and by golly the next day I got an envelope with back pay. Then I was making twelve dollars and a half a week.

Ben: Twelve! That's quite a raise.

Granny: Then later on he wanted to know, "Would you like to have a demonstration?" I said, "Well, I suppose so." See, then the assistant buyer had a demonstration—powders and creams and that, y'know—you have to push your kind. Then I got paid by Yardley's of London. Got the checks through the mail.

Ben: You were only like sixteen or seventeen—

Granny: Seventeen when I started working. Y'know, the first time my dad took me down—have you heard of Beemis Bag Company in Minneapolis? They made those great big burlap bags for potatoes or—a lot of things, y'know, they used them for. And they wanted help. And my dad took me down there, and oh, that great big old building with all that machinery in it and everything. I thought—and he took me up to the interviewer and no, they didn't need anybody. I was never so glad in my life! And that's when that girl got me in there at Powers. I wouldn't have had a job then; I'd had to go looking again for work.

Just think; the thought of working for seven dollars a week [Laughs] Gee! And then my brother was working too, Harry Truwe; he had got work right away, and my dad—we were eating supper one night, and he says, "Now listen; you two are working now, and you should pay a little room and board. A dollar a week."

Ben: So what did you do with the rest of your money?

Granny: Well, y'know, you gotta buy clothes and you gotta buy this and that. Then later on my dad says to me, "You've been spending most of your money. I think you should either save some of it or buy something you need. You need a bedroom set." I had a bed and an old dresser of some kind, y'know, in my room. He says, "Why don't you get a nice bedroom set for your room?" He said, "I saw one"—he used to walk around, y'know, look in the windows downtown—you could walk from our place downtown, we were only on Fourteenth Street.

Ben: What was the address there?

Granny: Three thirty-three East Fourteenth Street. [Laughs] And he says, "I'll go with you." Y'know, he would get things to cash—you could save money that way then, y'know, they'd give you a little discount. He didn't believe in charging for anything. And he said, "I'll pay for it, and you give me so much a week." I don't remember what it was, but I still had enough money left afterwards. And I paid him faithfully every week until I had it paid for. I had a dresser, and a dressing table, and a bed.

Ben: Was it at Powers that you were wearing hobble skits?

Granny: Yeah, and I was running for work one day, and there was a tight skirt, and then there was an overskirt that comes over it down to about here, kinda flared a little bit, and I was going real fast, and my knee went right through the skirt. It ripped it right up there like that, y'know, and when I got to work I went over to the fabric department. The women always wore those black sateen aprons then, y'know, when they worked, and I asked if I could borrow one of their black aprons, their little black sateen aprons so I could—[Laughs]

Ben: Oh, you couldn't show a knee then, could you. This was a big problem, wasn't it? Having a knee showing.

Granny: [Laughs] Oh, yes! Of course! Well, we didn't dress like this, now, with all—but then that was when that woman came over to Powers, and she said—I saw her standing by the doors in the front there, you came in through the drug department first in the front, and I'd seen her looking at me, and I was waiting on my customers and that, and Miss Ryan, I don't know, she'd gone somewheres, maybe she'd gone up probably to where they had the supplies upstairs, and she came over and she says, "Do you like your job here?" I said, "Yeah, it's okay." She says, "Well, would you like to change?" And I says, "Well, I don't know." And, "Well," she says, "we have an opening over at Liggett Drug on Hennepin Avenue." Seventh Street and Hennepin Avenue, I think. "I think you'd like it," she says. "You just work days here, don't you?" I says, "Yeah." "Well," she says, "over there you work one day afternoons and the next day you work mornings and evenings." And I thought, gee, that'd be kinda nice to be off during the day sometimes, you know. And when I was working at Powers, in that department you got commission on what you sold. Y'know, that came to quite a bit, and they did that over there too. So I gave notice. Well, I went over and tied the job down first, you know. Went back and told them I was leaving. So that's when I [dramatically] made the fatal mistake. [Laughs] No, I'm just kidding.

Ben: Oh, when you got married?

Granny: Then I met Harry [Henry Wallace Brown]. I kinda missed work. Well, I worked for a few months. We were married [in 1920] about two weeks—less than two weeks—when he had to go to Newport News, Virginia—give the students there—[he was] an instructor of military tactics. Light artillery, I guess. And they had to be there about two months.

Ben: So why didn't you go with him?

Granny: Oh, we couldn't afford it. My gosh. And he stayed in barracks, y'know; they had to keep their eye on the cadets all the time, too. And then when we moved then, over to Edmundville, [a neighborhood?] right near the University, gosh, the first thing I knew, why he came home one day and he says, "We have to go out on Saturday evening; we're chaperoning a bunch of the cadets and their girl friends at a dance." I had more fun! They all—boys, y'know, young men—well, we were young then too yet, you know. They danced so nice. We did that several times, y'know, there. Used to go to the football games. Then of course I started having a family. [Laughs]

Ben: That put an end to that.

Granny: Yeah. But my mother and dad, they didn't like it. Because, you know, a soldier in those days had a bad reputation.

Ben: Right after the war?

Granny: Yeah, or anytime before that. They figured that you just went in the service to have a good time or some darn thing. I don't know. Soldiers are not reliable, y'know, and this and that. Gosh, he had a very good record all through the time he was in, y'know. He went in in 1918 [he went in the first time in 1915], and in '22 he was—well it was 1923 when he bought out then because they were going to send him to the University of South Dakota at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and he asked me what I thought about it and I said, "Oh, I don't want to go really to a place where we don't know anyone." We had the two boys, and they were both so young yet, you know. And he never said another word about it. And he went down to the officers—Fort Snelling, that's what it was—and told them he wanted to buy out. Thirty dollars or something like that, you could buy out, you know.

And he got a job. I don't know whether that was going to Brinks right away. I believe it was the first job he had. His friend became a cop—but I used to say to him—y'know, if he felt he should have stayed in the service or not, but, y'know, [my son] Wallace [Truwe Brown] had to take his family to England, they had to live in England. They liked it, but kinda hard on the kids—Jeannie [Brown]—because I don't know how far they had to go to get to school, y'know, bus going around, she had to be up at six o'clock in the morning, and she was just in first grade there. I guess they were in a military school, or a school that they had for those children of the soldiers over there. And Wallace said one day—they had friends, y'know, that they got acquainted with—English people over there—Wallace said, "One of my ancestors came over on the Mayflower." And the guy said, "That's nothing to brag about; all the people they sent over were convicts." [Laughs]

But Harry—my husband—he had a friend at the courthouse in Minneapolis there, oh, he was the big shot, the police chief, I think, in Minneapolis, and he said to Harry one day about Browns and that, he says, "Y'know, he says, I've been going to one of those family tree things, and I know we're related." [His name was Brown.] But we never fell for—

Ben: How did Grandpa know the police chief of Minneapolis?

Granny: Well, I tell you, when you're like they were, around the cops and everything, and had to take people sometimes to jail and that, they got to know him.

Ben: Oh, when he was with Brinks?

Granny: Yeah.

Ben: So the police chief had already figured out that he was—[a Mayflower descendant].

Granny: Yeah. We didn't know whether to believe it or not. [Actually, Peter Browne of the Mayflower had no male descendants.]

Ben: But the police chief was sure that he was descended from the Mayflower. And he was sure he was related somehow to Harry. That's how we get our connection. [Doubtfully] Okay.

Granny: Well, y'know, you have cousins, well, they would be your second cousins, they used to live in Iowa, and they're in Apache Junction now, and they came to see Herman and Martha. So then later they said they were going to Germany, y'know, to visit some cousins in Germany who wanted to come over there. So they went over there, and I guess they spent several weeks. And when they got back they sent some kind of a letter or something that said that there's a chateau over there, a castle, and Baron Rassler lived there. So we started calling Herman "the Baron."

And then not long ago, the last time I was there, they came over to Herman [Rassler] and Martha's. And they had the people they went to see in Germany. The man is a pharmacist over there. And they had his two sons, and they came over to the United States for a couple of months, for the summer, and they were just traveling around. No, first they went to some special kind of a school of some kind. And then they had a month or so to travel around, y'know, before they had to go back. These were the nicest young men I ever saw. And Martha said, "I thought that the German language was kind of a guttural talk," y'know. And it was just the nicest—and they'd be talking; they'd speak to each other back and forth of what they were saying, y'know, to somebody else, and be sure that they said everything just right, y'know, and that, and—two handsome young men—so they were in Apache Junction, and going back there again this summer. And you know what, that couple were visiting in Minnesota, and they came up to see me.

side three

Granny: . . . I remember when you and Shelley got married, and I said to Shelley, "Are you going to get married in your jeans?" "Oh no," she says, "I've got a dress." [Laughs]

Ben: A red one.

Granny: I don't remember what the color was. I knew it was kind of a dark color.

Ben: Did you see Halley's Comet when it came over?

Granny: I don't know if I did or not. I don't think I did. I don't know where I could have been. That was a long time ago. How long ago?

Ben: I don't know. It must have been right around the turn of the century.

Granny: I wouldn't have remembered anything about it, you know.

We're talking about anything and nothing at all, but one summer out in Hancock there, in the field, we were walking along, the folks were looking at the grain and that, and I don't know what it was, wheat or oats or barley or what--but we noticed on the leaves--on some of the leaves on most all of the plants had a perfect "W" on it. And we explained about it, y'know, and that, and we talked, y'know, that meant War or something. Well, that was shortly before the first World War. A year or so, something like that.

Ben: This was on wheat?

Granny: I suppose it was wheat.

Ben: Maybe it was a "W" for Wheat.

Granny: Must have been. Yeah, I suppose so, but we did get war then later. The archduke got shot, then Serbia--that's what started it. But, y'know, they start wars in some crazy ways. Y'know, they said later on that it's true that Britain shot some of our boats down and that. Or something. To get us involved in it.

Ben: There are lots of stories like that. I don't think there's anything to it.

Granny: You just wonder because--and, y'know, a lot of people write stories about what went on, y'know. And how do they know? If it's true or not, but they use names and everything. And you just wonder, what in the world?

Ben: You might have been thinking of the Lusitania? I was just reading about it, and--

Granny: Well now, which one was it that they started to raise, and they finally found it?

Ben: The Titanic.

Granny: The Titanic.

Ben: No, they didn't start to raise it. Some people were thinking they could, but they thought it was all in one piece.

Granny: It was broken too much, yeah.

Ben: Oh, I have something that I haven't asked you about. What kind of food--what kind of meals did you have when you were growing up? Were there special foods for special occasions?

Granny: No, it was meat and potatoes and a vegetable and a dessert. Day in and day out, about.

Ben: What kind of dessert?

Granny: Well, Mother would make puddings. She had what was called, it was easy to fix in a hurry, cornstarch pudding. It was egg and milk and a little cornstarch in it and seasoning--vanilla. That was every day. And Mother would make cakes, she loved cakes, to make a cake. One day John [Huebner] came visiting Matie, and Mother made a cake, and it was a layer cake and she whipped cream and put whipping cream between the layers and sliced bananas in there and on the top, and [she said to] John, "This is kind of a sloppy cake." [And John] says, "I like sloppy cakes." Something like that he said, and we all got such a laugh out of that.

But, y'know, she made cakes, and pie, Grandpa loved pie. Oh, dried apple pie--we had dried apples then, and dried peaches most of the time. Most of it you bought, y'know, the farms--later the people had more fruit trees. My grandfather had a huge orchard. He had apples, I tell you, that big. Great big ones, and all kinds. One Christmas they sent us a barrel of apples. There were two or three different kinds that we had. We didn't get a lot of fruit, especially when we lived in town.

Ben: Did you only see oranges at Christmas?

Granny: Most of the time.

Ben: Was it meat and potatoes at your grandparents' houses too?

Granny: Yeah, I can always remember at Grandma Truwe's, oh you got meat and potatoes and you got vegetables and big helpings, you had to take more, and she always had a great big plate of peanut cookies--cookies like this her daughters made and they had the half peanuts, y'know, peanuts in the cookies.

Ben: They weren't made out of peanut butter, then?

Granny: No, we didn't have peanut butter then. Remember the peanut butter that used to have all the oil on top of it? Yeah, they used to tell you to turn the jar upside down. Y'know, up here we have, about twice a year they give you some commodities--and you get a can of peanut butter, and you get honey, sometimes you get a five-pound bag of sugar and a five-pound bag of flour, and butter--last time I got three pounds of butter. Then Wallace would say, "Mother, you're not buying enough groceries. You're not eating enough." But--in the summertime you don't, but in the wintertime you like to bake things, y'know, bake cookies. Last Christmas I baked, oh, I don't know how many batches of cookies and take the kids all cookies for Christmas.

Ben: Did your grandmother Wiedenheft cook more German stuff, or was it just meat and potatoes?

Granny: I don't remember very much about Grandma Wiedenheft. I remember sleeping there that night on the feather beds. I don't remember what I even ate there. I stayed with her a couple or three days or so, but that's the only time I was there. One time when we'd been down there, I think for almost two months we had to go to see everybody, you know.

But Truwes always--always in the evening, they came around, you got a knife and a plate with an apple on it. You would eat the apple this way, or peel it or cut it up, whichever, every evening. Before you had your evening services, and kneel and pray and sing and you had your apple and go to bed at night--

Ben: What kind of recipe was the peanut cookie? Was it like a sugar cookie with peanuts on it?

Granny: Yeah, just about, y'know. Yellow; I think you'd probably use more eggs than you'd usually do in a sugar cookie.

Ben: Were peanuts pretty special then?

Granny: No, I don't think so, but they must have been fond of peanuts--but my Grandma [Truwe] used to sit--I'd forget to eat sometimes, I sat right across the table from her, and she had one tooth sticking down here, and that darned thing flopped in and out of her mouth, and I was so afraid I wouldn't see it the next time she swallowed. Honest to God.

Y'know, isn't it funny that they didn't--and how well those old maids looked after her--y'know, the three sisters [Sarah, Lydia and Rose]. Oh, this one that's practically all she did, she took care of her mother--and her mother's arm would, her leg would hurt, y'know, needles and pins all the time when you have a stroke, and she would rub her mother's arm and work with her, and she'd always get her up, and put her to bed and move her if she had to move during the day, and the other two--Rosie, the one Matie said that I looked like--did most of the work in the kitchen. They didn't work out in the field, but they had a big garden; they did a lot of, y'know, I guess they did canning, they must have.

Ben: And her maiden name was Schulz. [Her Grandma Truwe's maiden name was Salfisberg; it was her Grandma Wiedenheft whose maiden name was Schulz.]

Granny: I think that's what it was; I wouldn't swear to it.

[Looking at a picture of Anna Salfisberg Truwe]

Ben: I've seen it before, but I never noticed how much she looks like Paul.

Granny: Well, I think in a kind of a way.

Ben: Around the mouth, I guess.

[Looking at the picture of the Truwe brothers and Buick]

Ben: This is the picture that's in that newspaper article.

Granny: Yeah. See, that was the kitchen there.

Ben: Oh. I never really looked at the house [in the background].

Granny: And this was that living room. This must have been at Grandpa's, because this was that room where it was built around the log cabin, y'know.

Ben: So that's the house in Amboy, then.

Granny: Yeah. I was upstairs in that once, in Rosie's room, and she had one corner of that room stacked to the top with gifts that my uncle [Bill Wiedenheft] had given her. See, they never got married, y'know. And I don't think she ever used the stuff. She had hats, she had dresses, she had gloves, she had everything in there. She never went anywheres; she was always home, y'know. And then this is the part that they built on, they had built out over the area with the windows in it, y'know, and that. That was a bigger part than this.

And that was built on after his--Grandpa and Grandma had taken in a young man that had epileptic fits. {A Fred Affolter shows up in the 1880 Census as a boarder.] His mother and father, I think they gave Grandpa money even to help build that area, 'cause he had a couple of rooms in there, this young man. But they had to kinda look after him, because they didn't have the medication then that would help him, y'know. And that was a nice house. This was the old part.

And then when the two younger brothers and Grandpa and Grandma were gone, Grandpa had specified in his will that these three old maids could live in that house till they died. And they didn't--finally one of those two younger ones married. And she married [as] an older woman--you hear so many stories about her, said she worked in a restaurant, and she had a baby, oh, in towns everything goes on, y'know.

And pretty soon--yeah, we weren't sure; Martha put these on so that [writing on back of Buick photo]--we thought it was between '25 and '30. [The picture was taken in 1922.] "Young America" it says on that . . . and that the girls [the old maids] would have that, and not to disturb them, and that's theirs as long as they lived, they couldn't put them out. The first thing then when that younger son got married to this woman they talked the girls into moving out of the parlor and they got them so that they were just in those two rooms finally. [Still looking at Truwe brothers picture] But that's the part that was built on there when that young man [the epileptic] was there. I guess they had him with them till he died. Y'know, I think it's the hats more than anything; I'd swear they were Jewish! [Laughs] But Grandpa was a runt, kind of, but he [John] was the one, he was married three times. And he'd go to California every winter. He always had a nice car.

Ben: So this was John's car?

Granny: Yeah. An old Buick. Well, I don't suppose it was so old then. That [the "Young America" plaque?] looks to me like that was put on afterwards, but maybe not.

Ben: [Looking through pictures] And that must be Benedict and Anna.

Granny: My dad looked an awful lot like her. But he had--his teeth--I have a cousin that looked a lot like him. This is Dorothy and George Antoine, y'know; you've met them. There's always been a resemblance between her and Martha. There's Wallace in Korea. There's Matie and John. That was taken about the time Harry and I had those crazy pictures taken.

Ben: Which pictures are the crazy ones? [The portrait of Granny and Grandpa where Granny has freshly marceled hair, to her obvious discomfort.]

Granny: Oh, gosh, I don't know whether I've got it here or where, but there's Martha; this is one of them [they had a portrait done of Martha at the same time]. Look at Jeannie and her mouth, and Wallace's. That was Jeannie when she was just a little bitty tot. And this was Wallace's boy friend in school, and he had been operated on when he was a kid; he had club feet, and he'd been real crippled, had big heavy cords, so he went in the service and they sent him out on a march, and when he came back his feet were--he wouldn't say anything, but his shoes were full of blood. Then they gave him other work to do. [Different picture] That was when Benny was first in the service, and he had snuck home from Chanute Field [Illinois] one week, and--

Ben: Now, he was flying cargo planes, wasn't he?

Granny: No, it was the paratroopers. [The 17th Troop Carrier Squadron flew C-47s (DC-3s) to tow gliders and drop paratroopers in the invasions of Sicily and southern France. They were also stationed in India for a few months in 1944.]

Ben: But he was a pilot?

Granny: No, he was the air chief. The crew chief.

Ben: So he was on the ground?

Granny: Yeah. [The crew chief flew with the plane.] Martha's got the album [now lost or misplaced]--I didn't want them to get thrown away or lost--it had pictures that he had taken with the other--he was the youngest one of the group. Then he'd get back and they had to do what he told them to--he never told them his age. He says, "I couldn't have control of them then." [Another picture] This was just about the time that Grandpa [her husband] got sick, when he had that tuberculosis. They took him outdoors at the Pako company [Pako Corporation, manufacturer of graphic arts and x-ray equipment. In the 1940s he worked at Northern Pump and Honeywell under defense contracts.], and he had ran a lathe, and they always had so much dust and iron and stuff floating around in the air. And he had invented something that made where water would keep that stuff down, so they took him outdoors and took a picture of him. They had a picture there. We used to laugh . . .

This little guy, he gave us the prettiest baby blanket. Wallace [Harry?] brought it home; it was all wrapped up so pretty--evidently his wife had done it, y'know, and then Wallace was born.

Ben: Now, who were they teaching what at the university?

Granny: The ROTC.

Ben: Oh.

Granny: And he'd talk about Harold Stassen [Stassen was one of HWB's ROTC students]; he's the guy that's done so much politicking and trying to be President, you know. [Another picture] There's Harry and Ruth when they were first married.

Ben: What about Harold Stassen?

Granny: Well, he's always been a politician, you know. And he tried his darnedest to get in for so long as President in Minnesota, y'know, and . . .

Ben: And Grandpa knew Harold Stassen?

Granny: Yeah, and he knew Hubert Humphrey, and some of the other Truwes got to know him, y'know, when he was over there [at the university?].

Ben: [Another picture] Now you aren't saying that that's you, are you?

Granny: No, I'm not in it. That's Harry right in front of the door [the LaPorte School photo]. No, that's down in Missouri. [LaPorte is in Minnesota; La Plata is in Missouri.] That little school there is not far from where Grandma and Grandpa [Harry's parents] lived when they were--Browns, y'know--down there.

Ben: The school is still standing?

Granny: Well, Charlotte [Copenhaver Litchfield, Allie's daughter, HWB's niece] taught there for a number of years--quite a few years.

Ben: Grandpa is right next to the teacher. I wonder if that should tell us something.

Granny: He talked about one day when he was naughty and she was trying to catch him and he says he jumped through the open window and run out and there was a swamp with water in it and he run right into the water and she couldn't catch him. And he told that story, but whether it was true or not, I don't know.

Ben: I can still see Paul [in Harry's features].

Granny: You can? Well, something like--yeah, he's got kind of a mouth like Paul. And yet he looks like--Mother has--it's just a small, little picture, the only picture they have of Grandma's father [Wiedenheft?]. And he had a long face.

Ben: And in this picture of you I see Jeanne.

Granny: You do? Well, yeah, they say I look like Wallace, and everybody when Benny was still living they said I looked like him. I don't know. [Picture of Anna--to Anna] I don't know who that is, do you? [To Ben] I'd swear that was you.

Ben: That's Anna.

Granny: Yeah, but it still looks just like you. That looks just like you. This is one of John's little girl, Bran Dee. This is the island on Lake of the Woods that Wallace and Edith used to have. This is several years ago I was at Paul Bunyan--

Ben: In Bemidji.

Granny: All right, lookit here. Doesn't that look like Grandpa there? Martha saw this; we were at a rummage sale one time, and it looks just like that little poodle I have. Well, you have the other.

Ben: The pug, yeah.

Granny: Yeah. That's one of Jeannie's--oh, this is [reading] "Matthew Brown, brother of John William Brown."

Ben: Who were these two guys? John William--would that be Grandpa's father? [Yes.]

Granny: No, that's his brother, Matthew Brown is. Oh Grandpa Brown's, yeah.

Ben: [This is] His uncle. It's a good picture.

Granny: Now there's a picture of Wendy, and her kid brother. He's sixteen now. Oh, this is a picture--I cut Wallace's picture off because he was right beside--he and his wife, his first wife. I didn't want her picture and I thought that was a nice picture [of Wallace], and I took it out.

There's Matie and Harry and I. And Dorothy. Y'know, I thought that was a nice picture. This was my neighbor's [in Henderson, Nevada] little kid; it was a Mexican family, and their daddy--well, he wasn't, I think he was Irish--red hair and red beard--the neighbor that always helped me with Harry when I had trouble, y'know. That's the neighbor, the guy's wife that lived next door--they were such a nice couple.

I thought I had some of the older pictures here. Here's Richard out in the boat with--there's the dog. He died last year; they've got a pup now. And this is when we were in Seattle at the Space Needle. We were up there when Jeannie got married in [reading] "January 1980." That's Edith sitting in front of the empty fireplace out at the place, at the lake there. They put the fireplace in and then they--oh, dear!

Ben: [For Anna's benefit] Mr. Monkey [Anna's lovey] was his god.

Granny: [To Mr. Monkey] Yeah, that was when you were God. [Laughs]

[To Anna] That's when you got caught under the table there--[her hair got wound up in the wheels of a toy car].

Ben: Yeah, I think we sent you these pictures.

Granny: I think you did too. But this takes the prize--if it wasn't for Harry and them being on I'd cut this off. Isn't that terrible? [Reading] "January." [Another picture] Isn't he a big bruiser? [John Brown] I used to call him my Mexican grandson 'cause he wore that goofy mustache. Well, you can see how big he is there, that was with me--we went to Fort Snelling, that was when we buried Grandpa's ashes we were out there.

[Another picture] Oh, that's when--was that Anna or--?

Ben: That's Matie. You're making "noo-noos."

Granny: Yeah, making noodles there. [Laughs] And there's Martha there.

[Another picture] Well, that was when--the little adopted one, I think. This was my cousin; that was two, three years ago. She was very good to come up here quite often. This is my cousin's widow. His mother and father was Mother's sister and Dad's brother.


Granny: We were in Minneapolis--no, in Morris--we had gas lights quite a bit. And, y'know, when we moved to Minneapolis, Dad rented this little house; we had a little porch, went into a dining room, then here was the living room over here, and the kitchen, and over there was the stairway upstairs. There were three bedrooms upstairs.

Ben: That was on North Fourteenth?

Granny: Yeah. Three thirty-three East Fourteenth, South Minneapolis. And we had lamps there at first, because I came home one day from work, came in and I said, "What makes it so light in here?" And Dad had had the gas lights turned on. I think we'd had gas when we lived there, all the time we lived there. They didn't have it turned on right away, I suppose, getting settled and everything. Gas lights, they're kinda hot, and they sizzle.

Ben: Sizzle? Did they hiss?

Granny: Yeah, kind of hiss. Mantles on them, and--

Ben: Did you have a phone there?

Granny: Yeah, we got a phone, had a phone put in.

Ben: Was that your first phone?

Granny: No, we had phones before then.

Ben: Well, you didn't have a phone when you burned your legs, or he wouldn't have had to ride horseback.

Granny: Got on a horse and away he went. Come back all pooped, you know. [Laughs] Guess he did, I don't know; I don't think I was in condition to even think of anything. Worst part of it was, after the first pain, was every day taking those bandages off, y'know, and then putting the fresh stuff on. Never got a doctor afterwards, either. Oh, gosh, and the skin just rolled off with the bandages. I can see that coffee coming and I was--just sat there, paralyzed, y'know, I could see it coming. I can see it right now coming over that stove.

Even up at the--y'know--down here on the first floor, in the dining room, y'know, they've got the cans of coffee, the pitchers of coffee, I helped our floor serve that yesterday afternoon's coffee. And once a month we have a birthday party, y'know, not a birthday party--they set the table for the ones that have birthdays--Hannah--Anna and Julia both have a birthday this month. And she says, "We're serving today." I says, "You want me to help?" "Yes we do." I says, "Okay," I says, "I'll do anything you ask me to do but I won't handle the coffee pot." Funny with something like that how--

I went out one time to see Harry at the veterans hospital; he was there with--he'd been having appendicitis attacks, and the doctor said it was ulcers. And he told me what to feed him, not to give him any fried food and this and that, no fat and all that stuff, just on a diet, and of course Harry got feeling better, but then he had another attack later, and I think he had another doctor; he went out to the vets hospital, and they told him he had appendicitis and that he should have an operation. Harry said they wanted to put him to bed right there. And he had a fever, and his breath was terrible, and he said they said, "It's not ulcers; it's your appendix." Then he says, "You're tight." And, "We'll put you to bed and we'll operate." Soon as the swelling kinda went down. And he says, "I can't [have an operation] today; I got some business I have to take care of." I don't know what it was, really. And, well, he went down to where he worked, y'know, I think he was at Brinks at that time. And the doctor says, "Well, don't you get anywheres away from a phone," he says, "or where you can get an ambulance--get an ambulance and get out here." And so he was home about a week, and then he went down, went to the hospital, and they operated, and his appendix--he'd had so many attacks and that, he had so many adhesions his appendix was way back and it was attached in his back. Doctor said it was just ready to erupt, y'know. Each time he had--poisoned him, 'cause he used to look just gray, y'know.

Ben: So--it would leak?

Granny: Yeah. Get that poison in your system and--

Ben: Now were you saying that you wouldn't handle the coffee downstairs because of what happened to your legs?

Granny: Well, no, not really that, but I mean when they bring them around, when they come with those coffee urns, y'know, and they come right by you and pouring the coffee, some of them, they aren't always too [careful]--y'know, it scares me. I don't suppose it would burn me very much now, but it sure was-- There's something about it, but something like that, I suppose my age at the time, y'know, being a young kid--I'll never forget that as long as I live. I've forgotten a lot of things, but--

Mother, she felt so terrible, of course, naturally. Dad says, "What happened?" "Coffee handle broke," she says. It just tipped right--handle just swung around and all the coffee went right on the stove and just bubbled--just about that thick it was, y'know, it just run right off and onto my legs. Didn't have sense enough to get my legs out of the way.

Ben: It's not that; it's that your perception of time changes. There probably wasn't time to move your legs out of the way.

Granny: No, really, I suppose it wasn't. I think you're--you just see that coming and--oh, it came in a hurry because it was, the coffee pot was full, y'know, and boiling when she took it off; didn't want it to boil over. But it did! [Laughs]

Always tried to be so careful with the kids, I think, y'know, with things like that, too. Of course, nothing Mother could have done with it; I don't know whether she'd noticed it was [weak]--I suppose it was from the heat and that the handle was probably charred, y'know; usually they had wooden handles fastened to a coffee pot. One of those alu--not aluminum, but--

Ben: Tin. Kinda like graniteware, enamelware.

Granny: Enamelware. And they get a handle like that on top of a stove, y'know, the whole darn top of the stove gets hot, and that gets more brittle and brittle, and, golly, just gave way. [Laughs] So beware, don't burn your kids with coffee. Oh, I don't think you do; you don't drink coffee, do you.

Now Richard's family don't, any of them, well, Sandy drinks coffee. But neither one of the kids--Richard never drank coffee.

Ben: We drink tea. Not a lot though; I have like a cup a day.

Granny: Y'know, when Martha was home before she ever got married, y'know, in the evenings Dad usually went to bed kind of early; we'd sit and talk, and every once in awhile, "Let's have a cup of tea, Mother." And when she, y'know, went and got married, after that I couldn't--I didn't enjoy a cup of tea anymore. And we'd talk, and talk, and sip tea.

Ben: Could you talk like that with your mother?

Granny: I don't know; when I was little--I don't remember; I used to think Mother was kind of stern. I think she just worked so hard, too, with Dad, y'know. I was much closer to my dad than to Mother. I think girls are, as a rule, you know.

I know one time--I don't know when it was--I used to have kind of a moody time. I kind of could sense sometimes that there was something a little wrong [between her parents], and I'd feel bad then, y'know. I just couldn't ask questions or anything. But a few times Mother and Dad had a few little battles, y'know, and that.

One time she sent me out to the fields with coffee and a sandwich for Dad in the middle of the morning. Not in the afternoon, he liked it light in the morning, didn't eat much breakfast. I can always remember one time I went out there; he sat down to eat, and I was standing and he sat there and I started to cry. And he says, "What's the matter? Don't cry. Everything's fine. Everything's okay." I don't know what he was saying; I don't remember what he said or why he said anything like that, but, y'know, sometimes we--

And when I was little when we lived on that darned farm out there and it was--there used to be so much wind, and you'd hear that and she wanted me to take a nap in the daytime. And I'd hear the wind through the screens on the windows, y'know--oooooh oooooh--and I would just--oh, Benny was that way when I'd try to get him to sleep when he was--the doctor said to make him nap afterwards. That's when he didn't go to school that winter, 'cause he got so nervous. And she'd get up--I'd pop right up and follow her out to the kitchen or whatever she was doing around there.

Gosh, one day she went out to get some wood. And Dad had, the man that owned the farm he wanted Dad to--he tore down part of the barn, and there was those planks that they had on the floor part of that barn, y'know. It was down on the studs, it had these spikes and that in it. So then it was all broken up and then to use for kindling wood, y'know, or for wood to burn for warmth. And then one day Mother went out to get some wood and she hollered--I don't know whether I was in the house, I think, and Matie--and she hollered, and Matie went out, so then I was curious and I went out the door, and she was sitting on the ground and she had this piece of that plank--stepped on it. You could see the head of the spike up here [on the instep], through the foot.

Ben: The point.

Granny: Yeah, you could see the point up there. [She told] Matie to pull that out. And Matie had a hard time, y'know, getting it out. And she had those black stockings that women wore those days, part of the stocking was in there yet. And good old salt pork. Y'know, take a strip of that fat--like the bacon only with no [meat]--and bind that on that foot and you should have seen it draw that stocking and stuff out! And she had it on, of course you put a fresh piece on every day, y'know. By golly, she got all right, she didn't have to go to the doctor, she didn't go to the doctor.

And then Benny had--once when he was a young kid he stepped on like a shingle nail on something, and I took it out and I said, "Well I better put something on that." I don't know--well, I think he was barefoot but that was worse even, y'know, that way. So I said, "I'll put something on there like--if he's got, y'know, something in there it'll draw it out." 'Cause I soaked his foot good, y'know, and that. And it started showing a little red line going up his leg a little bit. So I got some salt pork, and I put that on. And thought it was all right, and I took it off, and it climbed up further the leg, y'know. So I took him to the doctor, and he says, "Well, what did you do?" I says, "Well, I put some salt pork on it, in case there's anything in it." He says, "Oh, that's just"--something. I don't know; he gave me something to soak his foot in, and I always said I felt like saying, "Well, my gosh--" [Laughs] But it got all right then, but it kinda worried me, y'know, a little bit.

Then I had--he was out playing with the other kids and went up on the next block--they weren't supposed to--and there was a little gentle slope and they were there a little while and here comes one of the bigger boys with Benny in his wagon, brought him up to the house, says, "Mrs. Brown, Benny fell out of it and went down that slope on the sidewalk; he got to the bottom, he turned it and he fell out and he hurt his arm." And it was getting close to time for Harry to get home. And his arm just swelled up, and Harry said, "Why didn't you call a doctor right away?" He says, "It's broken." Well, he called Doctor Baker. Old reliable Doctor Baker. Well, he says, "Put a board in your table, put a blanket on it, bring me a couple of towels and that." He says to me, "Have you got a little strainer of some kind?" And he put some cotton in it, and he handed me a little bottle of chloroform. And [Laughs] so we had him on that table there, and he said, "Just drop it [the chloroform] just very gently one [drop], then another one." And I was so intent on doing that, and he reached--he said to Harry to hold him, and he put his hand up on Benny's shoulder like this, and he took him by the, I think, the hand or the upper arm, and he just did like that kinda, y'know, [indistinct] it was holding the thing around the ball [his elbow joint] was broken, and it--the strip holding it--

Ben: So he'd kind of dislocated and broken his elbow?

Granny: Uh-huh. For six weeks or so he had a cast; it wasn't a regular cast, well it was all taped, y'know, and that. He took him back then and he took that off and he just carefully, y'know, like this. And he said, "He's going to be fine." We had to be very careful with it for quite a long time, y'know, each day make it a little further, y'know, get it all straightened out, you know.

The same summer he did that, they were out playing, they were jumping into a lake. No! [Laughs]

Ben: The same arm?

Granny: I think it was. It's what they call a greenstick break. He said to me one time, the doctor said, "Would you give him to me?" He wanted him. I don't know if he and his wife had any children or not. But he just loved that kid. One time he came out; it was when he had that undescended testicle that he had, and he comes in the house--he just walked right in, y'know, I had him downstairs in the living room where I could--in a little bed instead of being upstairs, y'know, he could be right down where I could be. And the doctor came in kind of unexpectedly and came over to the bed, and Benny looked up at him like this and he threw up all over the bed. [Laughs] And I had just cleaned him up. "Oh," he says, "I'm sorry; I should have knocked. I scared you."

side four

Granny: I think if you wrote to her [Charlotte Copenhaver Litchfield] and asked her for what she knew about--that you were writing, y'know, kind of a--biography, or what do you call it--something about the history of our family, that she would, y'know, give you the facts about where they came from, and where they had lived before.

Ben: That's not Grandpa's sister--

Granny: Grandpa's niece. Yeah. Allie is his sister, the one that she's ninety-eight. She wouldn't be able to--you know, I mean, she might be able to tell you something. But Charlotte would, y'know, I'm sure she would, she's been teaching all these years.

Ben: Great. Do you have an address for her?

Granny: You bet I have.

Ben: Matie gave me two copies of a newsletter from Virginia Newstrom. She was putting together Truwe history--and I haven't worked at it really hard, but I can't get ahold of her. I can't find her.

Granny: Is she from Minneapolis?

Ben: I think she was.

Granny: Yeah. Matie got to know--we had moved away from Minneapolis there, I think, and Matie had got acquainted with somebody by the same name as we had, had seen our name, the Truwe name in the telephone book and called Matie and talked to her. Must have been Mother, I guess, 'cause Matie was married. And talk to them, y'know, Mother was living with them. And Matie, y'know, got I guess some information and that, and that's when she gave me that piece of paper [she must be referring to one of the Newstrom newsletters], and I'm sure it's in amongst your stuff, y'know, with the names of the Truwes, the names, y'know, where the names were spelled wrong.

Ben: All I have is that piece of a newspaper [the 1922 article].

Granny: Well, this was just on a sheet of paper. Written on it.

Ben: Matie gave me a few things; she gave me--well, that's another thing I wanted to ask about. She gave me the set of Dickens that belonged to your father.

Ben: Yeah, I had read about ten of them; I think I was about eight years old or so when I started reading them.

Ben: Some of them are scribbled in--

Granny: Well, my dad had picked them up at an auction. They had the whole set, I think.

Ben: Some of them are written "Amboy, Minnesota" inside.

Granny: Oh, uh-huh, well I suppose, yeah. I don't know how long the folks had had them. Because, well, that [lawyer's] bookcase--Matie gave it to you, didn't she. No, Martha's got the bookcase.

Ben: The one Wallace broke--cracked one of the windows on.

Granny: Yeah. Martha's got that. I knew I'd seen it.

Ben: That was your dad's too?

Granny: Yeah. And Matie and Harry--my brother--had bought that for Dad and Mother. To put the books and stuff in.

Ben: They bought it new?

Granny: Yeah. And a friend of Martha's in Henderson, Nevada, she's got a bookcase just like it, only the--see the one the folks had the lids came down like this. And hers you lift the lids up on the bottom and it slides in, you see. [Otherwise] it's made exactly the same. And hers is a little higher than the one of Matie's that Martha has now.

Ben: Matie also gave us a little vinegar cruet. She said it was one of her wedding presents.

Granny: Yeah, I suppose.

Ben: It's pressed glass--

Granny: VC--Vanessa Clemens. They had a linen shower on her, and a kitchen [shower]. Linen shower, and another kind of a shower, and then they wanted one just where they was going to get all together that she knew--it's just a fun one. And everybody had to bring a gift that corresponded with their name. The initials of this girl was Vanessa Clemens--Vinegar Cruet.

Ben: Oh!

Granny: That's a cute idea. And she [got] all kinds of little gadgets of every kind you could think of. Some of them weren't all just exactly like--close as they could get to the [name]. And I thought that was kind of a cute idea. She got a lot of little things that she needed.

Mother had--she [Matie] wanted a wedding. And the folks didn't have--y'know, I mean they weren't well to do or anything, you know. And Mother said, "Well, we'll have it." And she wanted to have every--people, at that time, we had what they called a country club. It was the farmers formed a club, and they got together once a month and had a party and got to, y'know, visit with one another.

Ben: So "country club" was like a joke?

Granny: Well, in a way, yeah, because it wasn't anything [fancy]--it was just the farmers all got together, you know. Well, it was kind of like sometimes they had what they called a grange, and that used to be--and she wanted that. And so Mother says, "Well, I've got some turkeys. I'm going to raise turkeys this summer." And, y'know, she's going to make money with the turkeys. And, honest to gosh, every time there was a cloud in the sky she'd say to Harry [Truwe] and me, "Now you take care of the turkeys if it starts. You think it's going to rain, get them closed in." Because turkeys can't stand a lot of wet, you know. And that was our job when she had those turkeys. Then they had the whole country club there.

And our house was small. Dad had put it on the back of the lot. It was a beautiful lot; it had trees there, across there, and this way. And there was a nice, big, level place in there. And that's where he was going to build the house, a nice house. This was out of Hancock. So he built this little house on the back of the lot. And at first it was just three rooms, one slant on the roof, like a long shed. It had a--well, he built more on the back, that's how it was then, yeah, it was like this. And you had a living room, dining room, a kitchen and then three bedrooms on the side, a door into each one of them. A door here, a door there, and then a door this way into the third little bedroom. And they had all of those people there. And then John [Huebner], Matie's husband-to-be, his family all came, and some people from out of Morris, to the farm. Such a big bunch.

And when they were married, must have been a German Lutheran. It was a Lutheran minister. Well, you've got a picture of us standing. We stood up there, and John's younger brother, he's over six-foot-six. Harry and I weren't so tall, and John wasn't too bad, but this guy! That minister went on and on--took over an hour. A full hour to get them married. I think he preached half the Bible through. And all at once John's brother went down [in a faint]. He was fine; they put a chair under him, and the minister finished the sermon. So I guess they were truly married. [Laughs]

Ben: Another thing Matie gave us was your father's encyclopedias. Thick, leather-bound encyclopedias.

Granny: Well, I think that was something that he got that same time [at the same auction?]. He used to bring things sometimes, I was kind of a thing with farmers. When somebody sold out, why, everybody went, everybody around, you know. The women would make lunch; it would be an all-day affair. And they'd make lunches, paper sack lunches. You'd get an apple, and a sandwich, and a cookie, something like that, and they always had coffee.

The first one I ever remember, that was out of Hancock. That was a different place; that was before we had our own place, where that minister owned the farm, and we sold everything. And I had a little trunk, about like this, y'know, it had a curved top, just like the big ones.

Ben: Like a doll trunk.

Granny: And then Dad had taken a--we used to have those clocks, y'know, it's kind of long, y'know, like this, with the works in the face and the thing hanging.

Ben: A banjo clock.

Granny: Yeah. And it would never work. So my dad took all the insides out, and he made little shelves in there, and that was for my little dishes and stuff and things like that, y'know. And that trunk was just full of--I had--well, I think when we left, moved to town, I had thirteen dolls, but some were little bitty ones up to big ones. But I stood there, I was watching the people, and when they put up that little trunk and that little things--everybody bid, y'know, on that stuff, y'know, wanted it. I just--made me just sad, you know. Dad wanted to sell everything. Everything had to be sold, and I don't know why. But they just sold everything. And I don't know just where we went to after that. But, y'know, my little things that--I wasn't old enough yet to want to get rid of, y'know, things like that. It wasn't till after we moved then that--we moved to Morris, and Dad worked--well, that's when he started working at, oh, Carl Buttontine [A bookkeeper named Carl Buckentin appears in the 1910 Census for Morris], he was the--he was a well-educated man, maybe he owned the, one of these great big ice houses, had this great Golden Grain Belt beer thing, always took that to the saloons and that. And that was my dad's job, y'know, there.

And then Mother said to me one day, "Winnie, do you still want your dolls?" And she says, "Y'know, that little Marie" somebody, she lived just across the street from us. She said, "She could use a few new dolls." And I took the whole mess of them, and gave them to her. And after then [I thought], "Why didn't I keep a couple of them anyway?" I thought, well, as long as I was growing up, y'know, I think I was twelve years old then, I guess, about, I gave her all my dolls. They weren't any of them really anything special, y'know what I mean, but--

Ben: They were special to you. I think the only other thing that Matie gave us was a Bible. I thought it was the Truwe family Bible, but I bet it was the Wiedenheft's.

Granny: That could be, yeah. I know they had the names, some names, didn't they, in the front of it?

Ben: They were--she said that GG tore them all out and burned them when she was expecting the visit of some insurance man. She was getting a little--I don't know, a little crazy. She just burned them all, burned the front pages. The Bible's all in German, though.

Granny: I suppose it probably--I imagine it was her mother's. Grandma Wiedenheft's Bible. Could have been their own, too. Seems to me I remember seeing some of the names in the front of that Bible, there. Yeah, I know, when Grandma, just before she died, y'know, and we brought her back to Minneapolis from--she'd spent the summer with us up at the lake [Clear Lake], Aitkin, there. That's when Martha brought you kids up, y'know, you spent the summer [of 1957] with us. 'Cause she had said when Martha wrote and said she was coming, and she said, "Well, I suppose I'll have to go home. You won't have room for me too." And I just let her go on, then she said, "But I know they want to see me!" [Laughs] Just like as if to say, "Don't tell me to go home!"

But then as soon as they left, why then she says, "I have to--I want to go home. I should go to the doctor," she said. She'd had a few bad nights, kind of; one night Harry poked me. He says, "Go in and see her, would you; there's something the matter with your mother." And she was talking, y'know, in her sleep. Really--I didn't quite make out what she said, I got there when she was just about ready to wake up. Oh, yeah, I know now. She was always feeling cold, you know. That's kind of a sign that your blood is getting bad, you know, and breathing. So I had a hot water bottle. So I had given it to her, and she had gotten up, I guess to refill it or something, because I went in there and she had turned around so the foot--it was kind of one of those divan beds, like a three-quarter bed instead of a full one. And she had put water in the hot water bottle and then had it screwed in crooked. When she got back into bed, lay down and she went to sleep, and the bed was sopping wet. And she turned over from the head to the foot of the bed to get away from that wet.

And then we took her home in a few days, and that's when right after that that she died. It was so hard to believe that. Then a neighbor coming and saying, "Winnie, I don't want to make you feel bad, [but] your mother isn't going to live very long." I don't know, she must have kinda looked at her or something, and thought she looked different, y'know, or something, but, y'know, when you're right with them all the time you don't notice that she wasn't very good, so--

Oh, my--Wendy, Richard Brown's daughter, she called me awhile ago and she said, "Why don't you come over next Thursday? We're going to have a barbecue. Wallace and Edith are coming in and the other kids are coming." And it's her birthday. Well, that'll be her--I don't know whether it's her twentieth or twenty-first. August '69. Twenty-first, isn't it? She's getting ready to go to Minneapolis. She's going to spend this coming year now instead of at the University of North Dakota at the University of Minnesota.

Are you still planning on going by Jenny's? [Jennifer Jeanne Rassler]

Ben: Yeah. We're going to see her Saturday.

Granny: Oh, good. Did you call her?

Ben: Yes.

Granny: Oh, good. How is she?

Ben: She seems just fine and all grown up.

Granny: Oh, she is, yeah. She's been that way for, gosh, quite a long time. I know one time she--I felt so sorry for her--this was after Terry died, you know. And one day Joan [Perrin Rassler] had called Martha and wanted to know if she was going to be home. I guess she didn't think that she was going to be able to meet or to get Jenny, I don't know whether to meet her after she went to this--she belonged to a little baseball game, or club. Boys and girls, you know. She was a catcher. And she was so darned cute, she'd look over and she'd--

So when it [the game] was over, I don't know, Joan came anyway, and when it was over we were standing there waiting for her, and Jenny came over, and Jenny had tears hanging from her eyes, down her eyes here, and Joan looks at her and she says, "What? Tears again?" And then Jenny did cry. And we never did know then what the--but then she says, "Are you going to go with me or are you going to go home with Martha and Grandma?" And she said she was going to ride home with us. So then I guess Joan came over later and picked her up. I don't know what it was, but she could--you know, after Joan and Terry had their divorce, it surprised me how that affects just little kids. You could hardly say anything to her but she would cry.

Ben: She had not only the rug, but her whole world pulled out from under her.

Granny: Yeah. And we used to feel so sorry--Wendy is another one; she would practically drown when she cried, you know. Now they're not as bad--Richard is the same way. When he used to say goodbye to us, the tears would go his cheeks. He's a great one for his family, you know. When she [Wendy] was starting to grow up, why, he was a little gruff--not gruff on her, but, well, in a way. But he would want to know right away about who the boy was, where she was going, and everything, you know. He kind of eased off a little when he [learned] he could trust her now--[Laughs]

Well, there's so darned many things happening, y'know, that you have to have a little control, you know. But she's been going with this one young fella now about, I don't know, I think it's over a couple of years now. They broke up a couple of times, but decided she wanted to go out with the girls and that. In a couple of weeks they were back together again. [Laughs] Not literally!

Ben: Oh, last time I called Jenny a man answered the phone. This was in Northfield.

Granny: Oh. Was that at her apartment? Well, she's probably got a boyfriend. She'd come by that naturally then, 'cause her mother has boyfriends, you know. First one she had--[Laughs] well, of course, Terry was still [alive]--well, she had told him she had met a--she wanted a divorce; she wanted to--well, you know this is all pickup stuff [second-hand information]. She wanted a divorce, and I guess he wanted to know why, and she says, "I've met a man; I fell in love with him when I met him. When I saw him." And we found out afterwards who he was, and he was a cop in Henderson. A policeman. Naturally, Martha would say afterwards, "I didn't think he looked like so much. He sure wasn't as nice-looking as Terry was." [Laughs]

Ben: If she says so herself.

Granny: Y'know, a mamma--and his hair was--losing his hair. But Jenny says one day that--we went to get a Christmas tree, I guess it was. Jenny was with us; we used to take her quite often, Martha and I, y'know, and--"Oh," she says, "we got a tree and when--" I don't know what his name was, Bud or something--and she says, "When he put it in the car we had to open up the sides so the tree could stick out. It was too big," she says.

But she wasn't one to--and we never asked anything. You shouldn't of a child, try to find out things, you know. If you find out things without bothering anybody about it you just don't--but she used to come when I was with Terry there a couple of months that I was with him. She'd come on a weekend and she'd sleep with me, and she'd say, "Granny, you snore!" I said, "Did you tell me to move over?" "No." Usually I woke up when I snored. And one weekend she was there, and I said, "Now, wake me up if I snore." And I woke up, and no Jenny in the bed, and I thought, well, gee, did she go in Terry's room? And I peeked in there and he was resting; went in the living room and then I came over to where--the davenport had its back to me, towards the kitchen. And I looked there--she was cuddled down, she had the TV on, she was watching the Saturday funnies, you know. She laughed--

And, y'know, Terry--she came over one Saturday. And Joan had brought her there. And she had this little soap--a lotion bottle; it was a gift. And the bottom half was cut off of it. And she had a paper flower, with little green leaves and two little blossoms. Real pretty, though. Brought it over for Terry and Grandma. She put it in the living room on the place where he had his record changer and that. And it was about the next weekend or so that Martha came over, I don't know that we asked her to come over, she just came over; she knew Terry was feeling terrible. Came over and asked--he said, "I can't stand it anymore." And Martha says, "Well, do you want to go back to Dr. Kersey?" [his Los Angeles neurosurgeon] And he says, "I will not take drugs." I went with him down to the drugstore in downtown Henderson one afternoon--his place, y'know, was right close to downtown, you could go through a couple of alleys and you're right downtown. And he got this--about the strongest stuff they said they had was that Tylenol III, I guess. And I guess he took maybe about two of them then he couldn't take it anymore. And I was just--"So," he says, "We'll get ready and we'll go back [to Dr. Kersey]. I can't take it anymore." And, of course--

Wallace and Edith had just come back from--well, San Francisco's the hospital there where Edith went when she discovered she had that--and they had just come back. And it was so hard to say goodbye to him. You know, it was--even Edith broke down afterwards, and she's usually quite calm. And he went out to the car, opened the door to get in, turned around, came back, came in the house. "Where's my flower?" I said, "It's still on your record player there." Went over and got it. Went out and got in the car with Martha.

And when he was there [Huntington Memorial Hospital, Pasadena], she says--got him all settled in bed, he says, "Where's my flower?" She says, "It's right here, Terry."

[Terry died of a pulmonary embolism immediately after the surgery on February 21, 1981.]

And he said to me one afternoon; we were sitting there, he says, "You know, that Jenny, you can sit and visit with her just like you were talking with an adult." She's an intelligent girl, a very intelligent girl. That's what the--Mrs. Hamel, the director of this place [Sunshine Terrace]--she was up one day, and I showed her I'd just got my pictures when I came back [to Minnesota] from there afterwards, and she says, "Where is she?" I says, "Carleton College in Northfield [Minnesota]." "Carleton? Oh, that's a school that's kind of hard to get into unless you're very intelligent." I says, "Well, she's an intelligent girl." [Laughs]

Ben: Runs in the family.

Granny: Yeah. He [Terry] took up my hand one day, he was sitting beside of me, we were sitting like this, and he reached over and took my hand, looked at me, "Oh, Granny," he says, "if I was half as healthy as you are I'd be so happy." You know, that made me feel just like I could--y'know, could just do it for him. I went over to the house one day, where we'd been living, y'know, and I'd been over to his place, went over that day to do something, I don't know what, to lock up the place, I guess. He comes over, and Martha comes, she says, "Oh, what are you doing here?" He says, "I'm looking for my housekeeper." [Laughs] You know, he was so darned cute about things, you know, like that.

I think of when Harry was so bad, at the very end there, and they told me, everybody said--Wallace and Edith were back in Henderson, and Martha and Herman were going to go up to the mountain that weekend. And everybody, Toni, their friend, and everybody said, "Granny, go up with Martha and Herman, and have a couple days' rest." That was when Grandpa was in the nursing home. And, "It would do you good to get away from here a little bit." And I went with them, and I was uncomfortable all the time I was there. And Herman says, "Well, we're leaving Sunday [sic] around noon," he says. "We're going to be back there by early evening." And wouldn't you [know it], we were just ready to leave and here comes a couple in, and they sat and they sat and they sat until evening. And--so then we spent Saturday evening, and then we went Sunday. When we got back, why, Grandpa was in a coma. But he was--he didn't hardly know you, but I felt so bad that I wasn't right there at his last--and then they called, just before I got over to the hospital, that he had died, you know [Monday, December 1, 1980]. And, I don't know, it gives you--I've got one picture of Terry and Jenny and I think Wallace and Edith and me at the nursing home. Well, somebody was feeding him; Martha, I guess, was feeding Dad and he's still sitting in the--they had him up in the chair, but he could just barely sit there a little bit.

The last time I saw him, Grandpa would--go in that nursing home, and the minute you'd come in the door--he was out on the first floor--and you'd start down that hall--"Mama . . . Mama . . . Mama."

Ben: Was he calling you or his mother?

Granny: He started calling me Mama after we were married.

Ben: Before you had children even?

Granny: Before we had children. I just--y'know, I thought, "Oh dear, maybe that's"--you think right away too it's disturbing somebody else, but I don't think hardly any of them really could've heard him or not, the people in there. And then we had him home--I took him home, because they weren't treating him good and that, and then he'd been to the hospital, and they called up and wanted to know if I was going to--the head nurse, she says, "Mrs. Brown, Mr. Brown's ready to go back home--to be released--you want him to go back to the nursing home, don't you?" I says, "I do not." "You don't?" I says, "No." "Oh, Mrs. Brown, why?" And I said, "They didn't take good care of him there." And I said, "I'm going to bring him home." "You can't take care of him." I says, "Well, my daughter'll help me. She's done it before." And, "Well, I'll call up to the hospital," she says. Sunrise Hospital [Las Vegas]. And she got a therapist, and a girl that took your vital signs and that, and then a girl to come and bathe him. And they did it for a month. And then the therapist said--oh, she was a tall girl; she was six foot tall--and she says, "I won't be coming back anymore," she says, "There's no use." She did like I did with the walker, you know. Get him in the walker, then I'd get behind him and hold the walker too to help him up. A number of times I just let him go to the floor, because I couldn't hold him. He'd keep saying, "I'm gonna fall, I'm gonna fall, I'm tipping over backwards, I'm tipping over backwards." And I'd--"Dad, don't. Don't even think of that. Lean forward!" And I'd keep slapping his arm. I really beat on him, his arm. Just trying to get him--most of the times I could get him close to the bed. And several times my next-door neighbor--oh, they were a nice young couple--redheaded guy; he drove a truck--and most of the time when I did need somebody and then when I didn't have--y'know, have to call Martha then all the time. And he'd come, I'd rap on the window, he'd come dashing right over, lift him up, put him on the bed, you know.

Ben: Did you and Grandpa have a wedding?

Granny: Oh, no, Grandpa and I, we didn't--I didn't even tell my folks. I don't know whether he told his or not. Of course, they were down in Missouri, you know.

Ben: They knew you were going to marry him.

Granny: Oh, yeah, they knew I would eventually marry him, you know. Oh, yeah. And Harry, I think he let me read one letter that he had written: that he had found a girl that he loved, and--this and that, you know, and that we were planning on getting married. So all at once we decided one day that we were getting married, I think it was--gosh, was it a Friday? [Yes.] Can't just remember. I know it was the fourth of June [1920]. So he told me the night before, he says, "Meet me downtown, noon." And I had the girl that I worked [Hemecia--possibly Hernecia--Rahders] with stood up with me and one of his--Olgett, William Olgett [the marriage certificate says William L. Hogan], was the soldier with Harry at the University. And they stood up and Harry--we stood and waited; he was calling up ministers. He hadn't been to--well, I hadn't been to church since I don't know when. And he found one, he was a Lutheran minister, he was out on Forty-Second and--something, downtown south. Said to come over, and we were married early in the afternoon.

Ben: So you were waiting at the courthouse?

Granny: No, at his home, the minister's. At the manse. No--we were downtown, but we'd just--it was a drugstore, I think or something, he went in and was calling. He waited for us to get there first, and then call for a minister. So we were married right in the minister's home. His wife came out, and she was--brought her out and introduced her to us--I remember we stood there to get married, and you know, I looked up at Harry and then I looked away, and I thought, "Gosh, am I doing this--am I--" [Laughs] Well, Lord, I was almost twenty-one, and I used to say to my mother, "I can't find a guy that I really--that I think I could love. I don't want to marry--" And, so, but--I really did love my husband. I stood with him, thick and thin. Fighting and pleasant, either one, all. [Laughs] You do have little troubles and that.

Ben: How did you go about setting up housekeeping together?

Granny: [Laughs] Oh! You know, Harry was looking for a place, y'know, an apartment. We didn't do a thing before we got married, then we just decided--. We stayed a week with Mother and Dad, and Harry was looking for an apartment in the meantime, and Mother said, "You know that you can't live here with us." I says, "We don't intend to; we're going to get an apartment." And I had a piano that my mother had bought for me and wanted me to learn--well, that was before I even--I was still going to school in Hancock out there. And they had taken that to town, y'know, and that was in our living room, but she'd bought it back with my--and I had I guess about fifty dollars or so in the bank, and I sold the piano; I got fifty dollars for it. And Harry had his month's wages, I guess. That was about it. That's all we had.

Ben: Well, you had your bedroom set.

Granny: I sold the darned bedroom set, and I gave away a beautiful cedar chest that a boyfriend of mine had--I hadn't gone to him only a few times and the Christmas here comes this beautiful cedar chest. And I sold that. You know who bought it? Harry [Truwe] and Ruth bought it. And Dorothy [Antoine] said one time, "I wonder what happened to that--you had a cedar chest, didn't you?"

And we rented a little furnished apartment. It had a kitchen and a dining room--no, the kitchen and a living room, and then across a hallway was a big bedroom across this--down this hallway was a bathroom. And the people from downstairs used the bathroom too. So our bedroom was really separated from the other two rooms. And in the background my kitchen window looked down--it was a long strip of ground, went way down, and then there was a block of trees and there was the [Mississippi] river down there.

Ben: What was the address?

Granny: I can't even think of that address anymore. It was a big building; there used to be a lot of students that used to have rooms there, and walking distance to the University [of Minnesota] then too, that's why we took that. And it was furnished. And I went to this little store by my--where the folks lived, y'know, and where I had lived before, Harry and I we bought groceries. And what made me think afterwards--I spent so darned much money, I thought I had to have all those spices and everything that you had in your kitchen before you could even cook anything. Y'know, I could have got along with salt and pepper and not all these other expensive things, you know. Because I was going to cook and everything right away. Well, I had a--I don't know if it was a little stove or a gas plate--and so the first day Harry brought home steaks. And I got the frying pan out. I said, "I'd better clean this; it looks--it don't look like it's been taken very good care of." Harry came out in the kitchen-- [Laughs] he took a look at the frying pan, he opened the kitchen window, and he threw it down that hill as far as he could throw it. And I don't know what I used then--I don't remember what I used then afterwards to fix the steaks. I can't remember that, but it shocked me so, when he took that--well, it was one of those old iron skillets, and when you use them a long time around the outside of it it builds up a crust. On the outside of it. It would have been all right if I'd scrubbed it, y'know, the inside.

He did the same thing one time in--it was out at--down at [Camp Eustis, near] Newport News, Virginia, with the cadets. And that was before I knew him. And he had--they were out I guess, the guys, y'know, at night on Saturday night or something, they took a room in a hotel. They weren't going to go back the base that night. And he says he woke up in the middle of the night, and he says he was just eaten up. And he says he'd asked the landlady, she says, "No, we don't have any bugs." Because he knew what they did to him. And he says that bed was crawling. And he got so mad he rolled that mattress up and crammed it through the window, threw it in the back yard of this little so-called hotel. They have a little--places, you know.

Ben: Sounds like an appropriate response.

Granny: Yeah, it was. We had that happen to us once. We had--the folks got kind of mad at us, too. I don't know what happened, what it was, but we--John and Matie had been up to Minneapolis and they stayed with a man down at Hancock. They were at Morris. Hancock was the next town. They were on a farm. And they knew these people, and he had a garage, and he needed a mechanic. So he asked Harry if he wouldn't like to come down there. And we just picked up and moved there, got a house--I remembered when I was a kid the house the doctor had lived in then. The one we used to go to when I was a kid, you know.

And we had his house, and I thought we were going to freeze to death. I don't think they ever used to have insulation in the houses, and it was a nice house. It was a kitchen and a--big kitchen/dining room, and there was a parlor, and then a big bedroom, and then there was a couple of bedrooms upstairs, but we didn't use them. And this one night it was so cold, and we had I don't know how many blankets and things, and we took the kids out of their little bed and put them in bed--we slept crossways in the bed, Harry and I and the two kids, to keep warm. Oh, it was cold that winter. And there was a pump out in the back, and Harry'd have to get up early and build a little fire around it to thaw the water out.

One morning he got the water all ready for me; he filled the boiler I put on the stove, he had a good fire going in the stove, filled two big tubs. "That should be plenty of water." "Oh," I says, "yeah, sure, it is." So I had just finished dressing Benny. I think he was about--oh, that picture I have of the two boys together. I think Benny was about three, if he was that. And I had just bathed him, and I put all clean clothes on [him] and Wallace, and was going to start my washing, and Benny backed up, went in that ice cold water, one of those tubs, head first--well, backwards, y'know like, went right into the big tub. And I grabbed him out of it--his eyes were wide open--I grabbed the towel and rubbed him good and got all his clothes off of him. He went around the rest of the day with rosy cheeks, just like that. Bright red, you know. [Laughs] I don't think he said a word, I think he was so shocked that he couldn't, you know. But we didn't stay too long. They weren't very good people to work for.

One night Harry scared the daylights out of me. I sat by and I cried. He came home--they had sent him out in the country to get somebody's car started, and they had some booze out there. And I don't know whether it was alcohol or whiskey or what, but it was so cold--he said he drank quite a bit of it, I guess. And he came home and got in the house, he was kind of late getting in, he came in and he looks--I looked at him and he looks right at me--he just crumpled up and went on the floor like this. Well, I could smell it on his breath. But you come in from the cold and you've got that alcohol, and he just passed out. "I had some liquor," he said, "It was so cold I just swallowed it down--" But he did have a little problem with--y'know, he would at times get--

Ben: Did you have your children at home? The first ones?

Granny: No, no. Wallace--we were over to Mother and Dad's, we walked over--oh, he made me go out for a walk every night. Took me out by the arm, and we walked. And one day we walked up--we were on Nicollet Avenue, out about Seventeenth Street, and we walked by and there was a theater--they were just coming out of the theater. We were just walking by, and I went down. My knees--my hips would give out on me. Everybody come running to pick me up, and I got up, and I said, "I'm all right, I'm all right." And I said I'm just--my hip went wrong. But he walked me, and walked me.

Then this evening, it was about--we were kind of expecting Wallace most any time. And we'd been over to the folks' that evening when she asked us to come over for supper, and we did, we sat a little while in the evening and I went to the bathroom. I came back in, I says, "I think we'd better go home," I says, "Because my water broke." So that was Saturday evening, and so Sunday I had an awful backache and the doctor came out and went home and came back again, and he says, "I'm going to give you something," he says, "to rest, and I'll be back right away in the morning." So he did, and I went to sleep.

And in the morning I heard voices, and I turned around and got my feet out on the floor, stood up, and the doctor was just walking in the door. And I passed out. So he came in, and I--he gave me some water, and I came to, and he said, "I'm going to take you to the hospital. You're riding with me in the car." He says, "You've got to go to the hospital." And he didn't want--we had had another doctor over southeast, where Harry was at the University. And I went to him a couple times. And Harry's mother said she wanted to come up. "There's no use of Winnie going to the hospital," she says, "I'll take care of her. I haven't got anything else to do, and there's no sense in taking her to the hospital." And of course she didn't come right away, you know then.

So the doctor took me to the hospital with him, and took me into the delivery room, and they put me to sleep. And the next thing I knew I was--screamed, and the nurse slapped me in the face. And he had taken the--Wallace. He used the high forceps. And Harry came in my room afterwards, put his head down on my belly, and he bawled, and he bawled. He says, "Oh, my god," he says, "I thought you and--the boy"--that's when we started calling him "the boy"--"and the boy were both going to die." [Wallace was born June 27, 1921.]

He was the most sad-looking little boy--he was sad-looking for six months or more. He wasn't a happy little boy, and I think--there's nothing the matter with him now, for gosh sakes, but I worried about him. I didn't see him for three days, and when I did see him his head--one side it was soft, real soft right here, and here there was a ridge. There was a piece of flesh off here and here, and down here. One was right close to the eye.

Ben: From the forceps?

Granny: Yeah. And Harry said that when he [the doctor] started to take him out, y'know, he says, "Honest, I think his neck stretched that long. I thought his head was going to come off."

Ben: So Grandpa was there.

Granny: Yeah, he came right in the room.

Ben: Wasn't that unusual?

Granny: Yeah, it was. And the doctor wanted--I don't know what he thought--but I didn't spread at all, y'know, I just--you know. Well, Mother was there too. She came over then before I went, y'know [under]; she came over with Harry then. And right after; and she was there too. And then a couple of days later, well, the third day, why, they brought the baby in and Mother was in the room there, and she--over by the window, and she came over by the bed, and I had him--"Winnie, have you kissed him yet?" I said, "No, I haven't," y'know, I was kind of--goofy [from the anesthetic].

I didn't do a thing for two months after he was born. Harry's mother came up then. Well, I was in the hospital six days, and Harry came up, he says, "Mother's lonesome. She wants you to come home, and she'll take care of you." Doctor Baker said, "She can go home, but she's going to stay in bed about two months." I was injured, 'cause I just bled for two months, just kept bleeding. Finally one day he said, "Well, I've got to stop this." And, y'know, he came in--I don't know what it was, something to [indistinct] up my blood and that. And then Harry--his mother got lonesome up there. And he found out afterwards she went home before I was able to be up, and she wrote, and she was getting married. She had a boy--that boy friend, y'know, that third husband, you know. She got lonesome at our place then, I guess. Oh, Harry, when he heard he--"Oh," he says, "I was so in hopes Mother and Dad would get together again." I said, "She wouldn't have done that. She got married afterwards, and then that man died, and then she wouldn't have come back to your dad."

Harry [Truwe] and Ruth had their first baby a month before we did. Of course, that little baby jumped over the fence first or something, you know.

Ben: Oh!

Granny: I say some of the things, and I tell people, "Whatever I say, don't think anything of it." And I went up to the hospital to see her. Me, I was like this [pregnant], y'know, and I went up and I said, "I'm mad at you. I was going to have the first baby." And I never dreamed about--later I thought--and I thought she looked kind of flustered, you know. But they got married in October. But Warren was born in May, and Wallace in June, end of June. They had, I guess about seven or eight months after they were married that they had--

Ben: Well, that's respectable.

Granny: Yeah, it is now--I mean, it wasn't as respectable then as it is now; it's just in your mind, y'know, those things.

side five

Granny: [Looking through pictures] Now that--I should hang that in the bathroom. You caught her--she'd just taken a--she's got a glass of something there, and she's drinking, and--

Ben: She's got a mouthful.

Granny: Oh, there's Terry's house. Yeah. Oh, I worked in that back yard to kind of clean it up and that; we got it so nice-- [another picture] There's Matie. See, that was at Wallace and Edith's when we were up there, and they wanted to be silly, and so she went down there and she said, "Tell Matie to get to the--" And here, this picture, that one you saw was Matie and Harry and I. And then Dorothy wanted to take a picture of the--what'd she say?--"the odd ones." Matie's husband, and Harry's wife, and the other Harry's wife. And she wanted her dad to get up so she could just take the three of them, he says, "The heck," he says, "if she wants to take a picture I'm going to be on it too." [Laughs] He just wouldn't move.

Oh there's--what are they opening up? Looks like--

Ben: I don't know; it looks like you're offering her a drink or something. Boy, that doesn't look like Matie.

Granny: [Laughs] Yeah, Wallace worked so hard when he cut that tree down, y'know, it had died, and he had started to take it apart, you know. Edith took some of those [pictures], and she was awfully nice about doing things. And there's another picture of us.

Ben: This is one of mine. That's Anna. I guess that's in a soaker [knitted wool diaper pants] that you made.

Granny: Martha made it. Oh, my gosh, it's--[reading] "Anna, first month, in Grandma's soaker. Notice her smile." [Laughs] Yeah, she's grinning, really grinning there. My gosh, and she's all soaker--that's somebody's hand there, but it looks like that should be her feet, shouldn't it? Big feet.

Ben: I think it's my hand.

Granny: Yeah. There's my resting place; you've seen that. Wallace sneaking up on a beaver, before the ice went out. Trying to get a picture of the beaver. This is there when they were putting the roof and that over the trailer [in Arizona]. He did so much work out there on that, built on the sides of the--[another picture] oh, our sixtieth anniversary--kids sent flowers and that. There's Bran Dee and her little dog. And then the kids had a--we had to come up to Grand Forks; they had a show with kids at school. There's John looking down on Grandpa. Aww. That must be Wendy. No, "Anna Winifred and Matie Rose." Yeah, now I can see it better. What did she think when she first saw--

Ben: Matie? She loved her. Anna cut the cord.

Granny: She did? Oh, my gosh.

Ben: She was right there. Actually, she didn't think much of her. She was all prepared, she knew what was growing inside Shelley's belly, she knew why we were going to the hospital--so when Matie came out, she didn't think much of it.

Granny: [Laughs] Well, that's good. There's Sandy and I; that's out at the cemetery when we were out there. That was when we--May first, it was, when we took the--Glenn Brown--isn't that something? "Ben, sixty-four [?] years old," it says.

Ben: That's me.

Granny: Yeah. There's Grandma Easton.

Ben: Yeah. At Dorothy's house.

Granny: There's Richard and Grandpa. Can you find Richard? That's a cute picture.

Ben: Anna and Matie again.

Granny: There's a lot of pictures I haven't--I've got to get a different--and this was on our, yeah, out in the yard. That was was at Dorothy and Herman and Tom and Toni and me and the nurse who came in--oh, she was huge--to bathe Grandpa.

One day I came in the living room, and there she sat--the [indistinct], and the windows wide open, and had Grandpa naked sitting in the chair. And I told her, y'know, after all you don't want to get--that's [Terry and Joan before] the senior prom.

Ben: Yeah, I remember that.

Granny: That's John's second wife. They were in high school and--"Yolanda." Oh, that's Dorothy's [Antoine?] granddaughter. Judy's little girl. You know, this is--oh, my gosh, how'd you get stuck--this is a cute picture--look at how nice that little boy's hair is there. [Laughs] Now, here, that's the one you should see of John.

Ben: The Frito Bandito.

Granny: Yeah. There's when Jeanne [Brown] got married. She got married up in Seattle. And that's Jeanne and her second--her first husband, and his two kids--she was fourteen years old there, can you believe it?

Ben: Wow.

Granny: They should never turn me sideways when they take a picture. It was a beautiful wedding; they came through trees and there was a path there and trees and flowers and that, and they came in and there was a gazebo, and they were married in that. That's Wallace. I like that picture right there, they're so--and that little Paul. That's cute of him.

Yeah, and this is where we were waiting to go down. We had a little service, not much, we just had somebody say a few words when we buried Grandpa's ashes, you know. You hate to just take it, and let it--oh, this is the picture--

Ben: That's Grandpa.

Granny: Yeah. I love that picture of her. I think that's just perfect. That's the one I want to put back in a frame someday. But where can I put them in frames and then you can't--I want to put that in a frame, I think. [Laughs]

Ben: Oh. Good picture.

Granny: I had some that--where the heck--

Ben: Oh. I thought your mother's name was Bertha Martha.

Granny: No, it's Martha Bertha. Yeah. This is the one that used to live in Arizona. When she got married they went out to Arizona--Hibben was their name. He was a--they had a big sheep ranch out there. I think you've got one of these, haven't you?

Ben: No. I can have this?

Granny: Yeah, you can have that.

Ben: Well, you'll have to tell me who these people are. I can see Grandpa.

Granny: Yeah, and Wallace. And his father and grandfather.

Ben: Whoa. This would be Grandfather Brown. Four generations.

Granny: Benny was there, but he was in the house. That was when he was six weeks old.

Ben: So this would be--his father's name was John.

Granny: Yeah. John William.

Ben: What was his grandfather's name?

Granny: His father's name was Brown and his--it don't say anything on the back? Well, his great--George! I think. I'm pretty sure it was George. [It was.] One of his sons I know was named George; I don't know whether that had anything to do with it or not.

Look at Jenny's hair there. She had such a big head of hair. There's Grandpa with Smokey [the dog, a pug]. I either am losing some things or I don't know where I put them, I guess.

That's when we were out in the--took that trip just before he went to the sanitarium [Glen Lake Sanatorium, Oak Terrace, Minnesota, for his tuberculosis]. We were out West somewheres, I don't know, we went all the way out to the West Coast and around there. And there's pictures [postcards] of buffalo we saw and--this was on the road, just as we went in--got to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. And the "world-famous Tree House" and all that stuff. There's the temple, the Mormon Temple. And I'm on the salt flats. What, is that a horse or a donkey? That's me, I'm one of them.

Ben: A donkey.

Granny: Well, I thought I had some pictures of that--thought you'd like to see what Benny had sent home, but I can't find them. I don't know where the heck--these are all things you've seen before. Yeah, that was Terry's car, isn't it?

Ben: Really?

Granny: They've still got that.

Ben: I didn't know he ever had a regular Volkswagen Beetle [he liked Karmann Ghias].

Granny: No, that's a little Saab.

Ben: No, that's a Volkswagen.

Granny: Oh, yeah, that's one he had before. Oh, there's another picture of Grandpa. These are some of his. I think that was taken in the Philippines.

Ben: Yeah, it says "Manila."

Granny: Yeah. This was taken the night that Benny--we took him to the depot in Minneapolis. And that was Edith. And he says--when he said goodbye to me, he says, "I'll be home at Christmas. I think Edith and I have plans." Then he turned to leave, and I patted him on the back and he turned around and looked at me, and of course he had--"Mother. Don't cry now. I'm in the United States where I'm safe." And that, Ben, was the very last words he ever said to me. And that was that. [Ben died 2:20 the next morning, September 14, 1944, when the Dixie Flyer crashed head-on in the fog into another train outside Terre Haute, Indiana.]

He had sent pictures from the, oh, places where he was at--Chanute Field [near Rantoul, Illinois], you know. I think--well, I saved them--no, now this is--

Ben: These are all postcards.

Granny: That's in Royal Gorge--Herman took us last time he was up here, and took pictures there. And we'd been at that motel when we were out there and gosh and that--but here, wait a minute, now this--no, this isn't--

Ben: I know where that is; that's Astoria [maybe not].

Granny: Oh, that was when we went up--Wallace and Edith and me, when I went home with them one spring. And Wallace says, "I'm going to take you around to some of the places where Dad had talked about where he'd been on the West Coast," you know. I think that's--is that the ferry we were on? We had to go on that ferry, y'know, across the--I think it was Bainbridge Island--to where Jeannie's wedding was, that her husband's folks lived. Gee, it was beautiful there. Mare Island. I used to hear Grandpa talk about that, too. "1958. Freeway interchange." It's a whole lot worse than that now.

Ben: Yeah. There aren't any cars on this freeway.

Granny: Yeah. This is--we went over this to go to the--over that bridge to get to the island where they lived.

Ben: Wallace was living in Washington?

Granny: No, Jeannie. Now this is another picture; that's Fort Casey [on Whidbey Island, Washington]. Wallace says, "I remember Dad talking about that," he says when we were out there.

Ben: Grandpa served at Fort Casey?

Granny: Wallace said he was there, y'know, that Grandpa said--"I remember him talking about it," he says. I can't remember that. But he was out on the West Coast for awhile. Well, that's where Wallace--they took every year, not every year, but every few years he takes--he had Wendy and Seth with him--when they had their motorhome. And they always took the kids, couple of the kids with them, grandchildren, you know.

That's Mount Rainier. Oh, Harry and I were going to buy a--oh, gosh, I think about ten miles away from that there's a beautiful area, and a real estate man took us out there, he says, "Look at the beautiful view you'd have." And there was a log cabin on it, and it was twenty acres. Said something to him about buying it, y'know, and we got a little ways away and I says, "Why are so many of the houses--they've got no trees around them?" "Well," he says, "look around where there's houses with trees." And they all had moss on them, you know. And he says, "It's very--"

Ben: Wet.

Granny: Yeah, wet. And Harry says, "Well, that puts us out." Because the doctor said he didn't want him, y'know, living where it was--[damp, because of his tuberculosis] This [postcard]--two-cent stamp--

Ben: "To Miss Winifred." Your brother Harry. It just says, "Stopped here for exercise."

Granny: They were going overseas. May 27, 1919. Oh, this is--Ben wrote, you know. "Harry, I'll send you a magazine I have that tells you all about our Air Corps. The magazine is short, about the size of a small telephone book." It wasn't--I don't know who I gave it to. That's at Chanute Field where he was there. Mockup of a B-18 bomber. They were supposed to be there a year, and December 7th [1941--Pearl Harbor Day], why, they were told they were putting them through in six months. [Knock at door]

Shelley: Just me!

Ben: How did you get in?

Shelley: It was open.

Ben: Downstairs, I mean.

Shelley: Yes, the downstairs was open.

Granny: Gee, we've been looking at pictures.

Ben: Granny gave me a picture. Four generations of Browns. That's Wallace, Grandpa, his father and his grandfather. And she gave me the address of--

Granny: Isn't that a cute picture of Jenny? I love that; I said she looks like a little Mexican girl.

Ben: And you know all those pictures we sent her of our kids? She still has them!

Shelley: Really!

Granny: Well, why not!

Shelley: Kindling. Thought you'd use them for kindling.

Granny: I should even get a new album, or throw out a lot of the old pictures and put the newer ones in. I've been talking here and this darned thing [the tape recorder] has been running and I've been jabbering and not even knowing what I'm talking about, you know. Did you walk over?

Shelley: No, no. Grandpa came [Leo Richard Filipi, Shelley's father]. So we could give you a ride home.

Granny: Oh! Is he out there?

Shelley: He went up to see Helmer or something. They tried to get ahold of him today and they couldn't.

Granny: I haven't seen him since Sunday. Wendy called. She wants me to come over next--lookit, Jenny's there with Wendy, and that's Sandy and Edith and Grandma there. Look at her hair.

Shelley: Oh, didn't she have the most beautiful long hair.

Granny: Oh, it was gorgeous.

[Break--I guess we ate, and I asked her to tell the story of the ax murderer after lunch.]

Granny: Come on over here where I can talk to you without--I talk loud enough, but I wouldn't want to shock the grownups.

Matie: [Talking about a stuffed animal? Yes, Matie really sounded excruciatingly cute like this.] I think you can carry him around wherever you go.

Anna: I don't.

Granny: That's your sister's. Oh, my, look at the fancy slippers too.

Well, we were sitting around the dining room table, and we--after supper, my father and mother, and my sister and brother and I. And somebody rapped at the door, and my father said to my sister, "Go to the door and see who it is." And my sister got--she was kinda funny sometimes, y'know, she thought she was kidding you, y'know, or saying something to make you--she went to the door and she didn't see anybody, so--"Oh!" It was dark out. She says, "Come right in! We've been waiting for you."

And this figure appeared in front of her, right away from the dark of the porch; as soon as she backed up but he just kept coming in and she just backed up, and stood there--I think she must have been about eleven or ten years old. And my father looked over at him; he thought he looked kind of funny, he says, "Oh, hello," he says, "how are you?" And he says, "I'm okay" or something. And he had a coat, and it was getting cold in the winter, and he had a scarf tied over his head and a couple of shawls around him. So he started taking those things off and his cap off, and it was a man. And so my mother said, "Well, have you had any supper?" "No, I haven't," he said. Well, she said, "Sit down; I'll make you some supper."

So while she was making supper he said, "Do you care if I draw some pictures?" And we all said, "Yes," you know. So he was drawing pictures and showing them to us. And they were the awfullest-looking things, 'cause they were drawn with, y'know, wavy lines and that, and then the animals with the horns, big horns, and the other side there'd be a person's head, y'know, on each end, and oh, the most weird-looking things--awful, you know. And my brother saw one of them, he says, "Oh, can I have that one?" "Oh, no," he says. "That's got a special meaning for me. You can't have that."

And the more my dad heard him talk he knew that there was something the matter with his head, that he wasn't right, you know. And he had his supper, and then he gave us each one of the pictures. And Mother went upstairs and she got our bedding off our beds and brought it downstairs and put it in the living room; she whispered to us kids to go in there and go to bed, see. And so she told him to go upstairs to bed, y'know. There was two bedrooms upstairs.

So he went upstairs, and while they were waiting for him to go to bed they heard him walking back and forth in the room, just back and forth--oh, back and forth and back and forth. "What's that guy doing up there?" So my Dad went out and he got the ax in the house, and he brought it in, put it by his bed. And he put a chair under the doorknob to the stairway going upstairs. So in the morning the man came down, and he said good morning to us, and Mother gave him breakfast. So he put all those clothes back on, and he went out--he walked out a little ways and he came back and he did like this on the post on the porch, like he was making a sign or something. Then he left. And my dad didn't even leave the house until he was gone. And when he left, when we couldn't see him anymore we went out to look at what was on that post, and there was nothing on there! He had just made those motions.

So we kind of forgot about him. And he had been talking to my dad; my father said, "Well, did you go through this town, or through that town? Or which way did you come?" "Oh, I missed the towns," he says. "I stopped one place 'cause I bought some writing--some tablets to draw on." Well, a couple days later when we got our newspaper there was his picture in the middle of the front page. "Ax murderer." He had stopped at a house, a place somewheres farther on from our place, and he killed a man and his wife. With an ax. [To Anna and Matie] And that's the story he wanted me to tell you. Now you're not going to sleep tonight. But weren't we lucky that we were nice to him? If we hadn't been, he might have--sometimes you can't trust people like that.

Ben: Wasn't that a nice story?

Granny: It wasn't a story, it was the truth! Oh, it just made us all just sick when we saw that. We recognized the picture right away, then we saw what he had done. He had escaped from a--they had what they called insane asylums, y'know, places where people, y'know, when you couldn't do anything with them. You never knew what they might do; you couldn't--and so many of them they let loose--now that guy that shot Reagan [John Hinckley], he wants to get out and they're talking about it. And I don't think he should.

Ben: No, he's still loopy.

Granny: Talking about places being so crowded and that, you know.

Ben: Matie, when Granny was a girl she had thirteen dolls.

Granny: About this big up to about this big. And I gave them all away to one little girl--was our neighbor. I was getting old enough I didn't care for dolls anymore, about twelve years old--

Ben: Did you have any other toys? Was it just dolls that you had?

Granny: Oh, no, we always got other things, y'know, little games and so on and so forth. I remember we had a sled and things of that sort, you know. But there wasn't too many not very practical things, you know. We didn't get much. My sister always thought she--it was so funny, my dad would--we'd go to town on a Saturday, that was something people did if you lived in the country you went to town on Saturday, you took whatever it was you had to sell and then you bought your staples and that, you visited with other people around the town, go into a restaurant or something, have a cup of coffee, and then go home in the afternoon.

Dad always--he'd go into the butcher shop. He knew what day the butcher made things, y'know, and he'd buy a big link of that bologna, you know. And Mother would go in the bakery and buy sweet rolls, and then on the way home we'd have sausages and the rolls to eat while we were going--when we went on the way home.

And when we'd go our Dad, he'd give Harry and I a nickel mostly, and Matie a quarter. I think he gave Harry a dime maybe, because he was closer to Matie's age. But Matie would get a quarter. She would bring her quarter home, but usually she didn't want to go. She didn't want to go with us to town.

Matie always had that little attitude that she was a little better--that we were so poor--I never had that I idea that I was poor. I always had enough to eat, and I loved to be home with Dad and Mother, y'know, and she--she was just a little bit--but she got in with the Huebners, with John, y'know, their family had--in the long run they didn't have much more than anybody else.

But they had a big, big farm, and they had a big house. It was thirteen rooms in the house. And when she and John were first married [1912], why, they stayed with that till John got settled in another farm. And of course Matie would help in the kitchen, y'know, the house, did the housework and that.

And then when they gave up the farm, living in the farm, why, Mrs. Huebner tried to--wanted them to come to the old place and stay, you know. They were getting old--much older then. Old folks, you know. And Matie thought--oh, they'd just be there with them until, y'know, till they couldn't work, so--that's when she wrote and asked me to write to her and say I wanted her to come back to Minneapolis so she could take care of the two kids. [Laughs] And she went to the hospital with me, you know. I went to the hospital for Martha, you know [1926].

Ben: You pronounce their name "heebner"?

Granny: "Heebner." Then this Robin--they call it "hyoobner." And I heard--had others that had that name, and they called it "hyoobner," but there they called it "heebner." H-U-E-B-N-E-R.

Ben: That was probably a German pronunciation.

Granny: Probably, yeah, something or the other, you know. But there's one woman, young woman that's on the news in--I don't know, I think it's probably when you get the news in Grand Forks--

Ben: I just saw her last night. And I was thinking, y'know, she looks like she could be related to John.

Granny: Yeah, she does, and you often wonder, y'know, oftentimes when--somebody like that, you know. And we had when we lived down in Arkansas our next-door neighbor--Martha--well, he wasn't exactly the next-door--it wasn't the house--it was quite close--and we used to get to talking to him, he was a nice person. I don't remember what his name was, but he was honestly almost a twin to Harry. Brown, you know. He had that long kind of face, and his actions and everything was--Martha tried to connect him with us--'cause he was English, you know, too. But they couldn't--didn't know anything, but he looked so much like him, and acted like him. That you'd swear they were brothers. Quite close, but I don't know if he was or not. [Leo nods off.] Now he's got to take his afternoon nap.

Leo: Yup!

Ben: Yup, that's to distinguish it from the morning nap. Leo's on vacation this week.

Leo: Yup!

Granny: [To Anna] Have you spent all your money yet?

Anna: No.

Granny: That girl. Come up there and win five games of bingo.

Ben: She brought lots of money with her and a camera full of film; she hasn't spent any money or taken any pictures yet. She's saving them for something really important.

Anna: I'm not. Mom brought my camera.

Granny: Well, once she gets home then she can go take pictures of her boy friend. Huh? How about it?

Anna: He doesn't--he jumps out of pictures at the last second.

Ben: Your boyfriend jumps out of pictures at the last second?

Anna: Yes.

Ben: Who are we talking about?

Anna: Pinky [the cat].

Granny: Of course your dad would have the--[to Matie] what have you got? You've got candy in there?

Matie: Yeah.

Granny: You just had dinner. You don't need candy. That's how your sister don't have to spend her money.

Ben: Anna can't have candy [she's diabetic]. She never was really too interested in sweets.

Granny: Oh, that's right. She can't have that.

Ben: [To Matie] You want to give some of those to Granny?

Granny: I had emptied a box of cereal the other day, and I just was going to--I was through with it; I took the coupon off--oh, a nice little book in the inside of it for children. [To Matie] Oh, how nice! How neat! You got a little bit generous with your--there. Ah, that's better. There, now you can have that. [Laughs]

Anna: Mom wants you guys to go outside. It's supposed to be cooler.

Ben: Do we have to do as we're told?

Leo: It's more comfortable in here, though.

Ben: Is she waiting out there for us?

Anna: No, she's busy.

Ben: Then why does she care what we do?

Granny: [Laughs] What?

Anna: 'Cause she's in charge.

Ben: Oh. She's the grownup.

Granny: Who's in charge?

Ben: Shelley.

Granny: She's got things to do. Have you got your car all oiled and greased and filled it full of gas? [Laughs]

Ben: [To Leo] Do you think--would gas be cheaper on the way to Minneapolis?

Leo: I would think it's probably about as cheap as it's going to get anywhere, I think. I don't know. [indistinct]

Ben: [To Granny] Do you remember the first movie you saw?

Granny: I think that really the first--about the first movie I ever saw was The Birth of a Nation.

Ben: Really?

Granny: That was a silent movie--

Ben: 1915, something like that.

Granny: It was--less than that, more than that. About--no, it was about 'fourteen, or something, yeah--and Matie's husband's brother took me to it. [It was released in February of 1915.] We were out in the country, and Matie kept saying to me--I hadn't been going out with boys, you know. And I suppose he thought--[indistinct] [Matie said,] "Ask him if he'll take John and I, too." And I said, "I'm not going to ask him." I said, "If you want him to take you too, you just tell him yourself." I don't remember too much--it was so much--I don't know, unnecessary stuff or something it was--it was kind of interesting, though, I don't even remember too much about it, but I know I enjoyed it and gosh I think it was three hours long.

Ben: I don't think it's that much.

Granny: Oh, how--

Ben: Oh, it might be an hour and a half or two hours; I've seen it a few times. [It's 186 minutes long.]

Granny: What all was it about now? I don't remember too much. I remember that it was--

Ben: Oddly enough, it's about the end of the Civil War and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan.

Granny: Oh, yeah.

Ben: And the blacks are all stereotyped, and the KKK are the heroes in it.

Granny: Yeah. Well, they were pretty crude in those days, you know.

Ben: But there had been movies for a long time before then. Why did it take you so long to see one?

Granny: Well, we were living in the country, and it wasn't always a little town near us--we didn't have a movie place in it--

Ben: So this was quite a trip to go to see the movie? Did you have to go to Minneapolis?

Granny: I was in Hancock, and they lived out of Morris. It was only nine miles in between the towns. Now they're longer--some of the little towns have disappeared in between the others--but those old towns we lived in, Morris, Stevens County, that's closer to the border, isn't it, in North or South Dakota. And that was the prairie there, and I was telling him how scared I was as a kid around there; Mother would want me to take a nap in the afternoon and the wind would howl, "Whoooo." I'd get scared, and she'd want to take a nap and I'd hang onto her [Laughs]--oh, I didn't like it at that place, it was--

Gladys [Skavlem Filipi, Shelley's mother]: We've got a little bit of cereal left to fix. I've been feeding him all the Ninja Turtles cereal, and--our grandson was here for--oh, you want to talk?

Ben: No, you are.

Gladys: Well, were you--do you have that thing on [the tape recorder]?

Ben: It's still on. Go ahead, this is being recorded for posterity! [All laugh]

Granny: Oh, come back here.

Ben: There she goes!

Granny: Funny, I didn't say something bad. He's talking to me and asking questions, then I go off on a tangent, say something else--I forget he had that tape recorder on. Pretty hard when you start remembering way back when, and then pretty soon something else comes up that don't have anything to do with what you're family or that or anything that happened, something else, and--

Ben: That's just how a conversation works. Have you ever tried to trace a conversation back to the beginning, and find how you got on a certain subject?

Granny: Well, I know when they have it on the TV there, y'know, these darned shows, and they tell one of the competitors something, y'know, and then she had to repeat it to another one, and that one repeated it to another one, and then by the time they got through with it, it'd be entirely different. Each one told it--that's like gossip, you know, when you start--

Ben: I've never heard any gossip.

Leo: [indistinct]

Ben: Was it you who told me you that took GG to see Jolson when he came to Minneapolis?

Granny: Yeah, I did.

Ben: When would that have been?

Granny: Hmm?

Ben: What year would that have been?

Granny: Well, I think I was--it was before I was married--it was between, what, about 1918 and '19 or somewheres around in there, I think. It was in a--he was there once. And I think he was there, or would be in a movie. It was a movie.

Ben: Oh. In 1918. I don't think he made any movies till he made--[Jolson's first feature was The Jazz Singer, 1927.]

Granny: No, I would have been twenty then. No, he was there. He was there. It was at the Lyceum. He had the--real, live.

Ben: Was he doing a play or just singing?

Granny: No, singing, and then he'd talk a little, but it was mostly singing. He was good. Oh, "Mammy," you know, and that--

Ben: He was supposed to be the greatest entertainer that ever lived.

Granny: In his day, I think he was.

Ben: Who was it, George Burns said that Al Jolson was a no-good son of a bitch, but he was the best entertainer who ever lived.

Granny: Well, that sounds just like he would say that. Y'know, it really--and, y'know, as far the--women on the--stars and that these days from what they were awhile back, they aren't--they don't get to that stage. There aren't any truly good actors anymore. It's changed a lot. Well, it's the stories and everything else that's changed, too, you know. You know, those were really stars, you know. Of course, I suppose the publicity and that all helps them too, you know.

Ben: It just seems everything is so fragmented now. You've got stuff bombarding you from so many directions.

Granny: You know, when I sit there and I look in the--you know what I look forward to sometimes? A Perry Mason mystery, y'know, his--I love anything that's got to do with law, mystery, something like that, you know. I don't like these out-and-out horror stuff, though, but I like something that's got something to it. I watched the other night The Deer Hunter. Did you see that?

Ben: I saw parts of it.

Granny: I thought, y'know, it had been so--blown up, y'know, and had five--

Ben: Academy Awards.

Granny: And I says, "I'm going to see it." 'Cause one time I started this book--but then that evening I felt more like it and I saw the whole thing, but it--it was so horrible.

Ben: Yeah. I don't like being tortured in the theater.

Granny: There's enough of that in real life, you know. [To Leo] Did you hear the story I told the girls? He said I should tell them about that crazy man that come to our place one time.

Ben: I wanted Granny to recount the sweet little story about visitors they had.

Granny: That night, y'know, we heard a rap at the door, and my dad says, "Matie, go and see who's at the door." And she opened the door and it was dark out there on the porch--farmhouse, y'know, and she didn't think she saw anybody, y'know, and she says, "Oh, how are you? Come on in." She would do those things, y'know, kids--and here there was a man standing there. So she was going to close the door, and he walked right in.

And he had an old shawl tied around his head, shawls over his body, two-three of them, and he started peeling all this stuff off. And my dad looked up and he saw him, "Oh," he says, "Hello." And Mother piped up, "Oh, have you had supper?" You know, in the country in those days you always had something--and he says, "No, I haven't." So she fixed him some eggs and fried some potatoes and something--he was hungry. And so he says, "Do you mind if I draw some pictures while you're fixing supper for me?"

We were sitting around one of those big kitchen tables, and he got out a sketch pad, and he had crayons and charcoal, and he kept drawing pictures of the most awful-looking things you ever saw. Oh, exaggerated animals, they had a human head on them--a tail on the other end or, the opposite, y'know, and my brother said, "Oh, can I have this picture?" "Oh no," he says, "that picture has a special meaning for me."

So he gave us each a picture, and then after he had his supper, why, Mother went upstairs and got down some blankets and stuff and pillows, putting them in on the living room floor, and she whispered to us to come in there, and she says, "Go to bed here tonight." "Why?" "Shut up, now. Go to bed." So Dad stayed in the kitchen there. And so she told him if he wanted to stay the night to go upstairs; there was a bed there. So he went up, and my dad went out and got the ax--I don't think he had a gun in the house of any kind--and he put a chair underneath the doorknob going upstairs. And the man went to bed, and you could hear the guy walking back and forth--I didn't tell you why he was doing that. He took the pad on the mattress, and the sheets, and the blankets, and he folded everything through the middle, right through the middle of the bed. I don't know how he could lay there with all that in the middle--and why he did that we don't know, but it was left that way in the morning when Mother went up. So when he came down, why, Mother said--she gave him breakfast, and he said--well, y'know, he had to leave, he should go--Dad stayed right there in the house.

And he left. When he got out a little ways, he turned around and came back, and he reached up to the post on the side of the steps going down, made a--something like this on the post. Then he left. When he got out of sight we all went out to see what he wrote on there. And there wasn't a sign of anything, but just--maybe he was, could have been a Catholic or something, well he made a sign of some kind, I don't know. When he left, well we were so relieved 'cause he was so weird. Oh, those pictures were terrible. And Dad would ask him, "Well, now did you go through Hancock, or did you go through this town?" "No, I didn't. I went around. But I stopped at another little town because I ran out of paper to draw pictures."

Two days later we got the newspaper, and there was his picture on the front of the paper. "Ax murderer." He killed a man and his wife. Elderly, kind of elderly people.

Gladys: And you had him sleeping in your house?

Granny: We had him sleeping in the house. But Dad knew--well, we all knew--I wasn't as old as she [Anna] is, but I felt worried myself, y'know, but we maybe had something he could have killed us with or something, but--he was so evasive, y'know. Of course, Dad didn't want to ask him too much, he didn't want to get him riled up.

Ben: I think the cruise director has plans for us.

Gladys: [Doing a word find book with Matie]. Now you have to find "spark plugs," [indistinct], "jackrabbit" and this one. I suppose this would be J-A-C-K-R-A-B-B-I-T. Hah! Now we've got to find all that. I found "jackrabbit," now we have to find [indistinct].

Granny: My girlfriend and I, I think we hit the spring weather, end of February, and I had a new hat, and we were going out that evening, and I was in a hurry to get home, so I grabbed my hat and put it on my head and went to the store, run across the street, she was already across the street waiting for the streetcar, and just as I got in front of the streetcar my foot went out from under me and I fell down. And I had this beautiful--it was black, real fine straw. Oh, it stood out about like this, and it was lined with red crepe, that pretty crepe, y'know, not paper. It had a bunch of red cherries on top on the hat one side. It was a beautiful hat. The hat flew off, and I grabbed the hat and got on the streetcar--she went into hysterics laughing at me. I could have killed her. My dignity was just all gone--[Laughs] But I think you wouldn't be seen out without a hat on in my day.

Ben: Didn't you have to be pretty careful running across the street anyway, to dodge the horse manure?

Granny: Streetcars--mostly streetcars and cars then.

Gladys: But hats were quite popular. I know when the kids were little you always had Easter bonnets.

Granny: Oh, I had the most beautiful one. It was kind of like a scooped thing with a--it had little bitty flowers on, and it was so pretty--I wore that thing till it was worn out, I think. I also had a gray sweater, but you know what I did one time? I couldn't wear the thing out. And it was getting so short in the sleeves, but I still had to wear it, you know. And one day I was outdoors, and I came home from somewheres, living on the farm, and I was making a shortcut, I was going under the fence, and when I got underneath that barbed wire fence I raised up and caught it and went like that, crawled all the way out--I didn't wear it after that. Had to wear it around the house, but--but that thing was--[Laughs]

Ben: The sweater that wouldn't die.

Granny: Gray sweater.

Gladys: You should have left it hanging on the fence. Somebody would probably have taken it away before they noticed it.


Granny: Can't remember it if I did; I don't know.

Ben: You didn't get into any mischief when you were a kid?

Granny: Not too much; I usually was scared to death. I know--well, when I was older then--we went out, whole group of us, fellas and girls, to Lake Minnetonka [near Minneapolis] I think it was, and they had one of these places you went down the chute into the lake. I couldn't--I had never tried to swim, and I went down that chute, and I know I went down to the bottom, and somebody grabbed me by the hair and pulled me up and [indistinct] the guy's face, and "Can't you swim?" I said, "No." Well, he said, "You stupid so-and-so." [Laughs] He got me to shore and I laughed so hard I thought he'd go back down again. [Laughs]

Ben: Did you ever go to Excelsior Park?

Granny: Yeah, I think I was there once or twice.

Ben: My mother took me there once, when I was little. I've been looking for a funhouse like that ever since. I think they're all gone. Y'know, everything was polished walnut [maple]. Big disk that spins, and the barrel that you can walk through--

Granny: Yeah, I know. I've got a little tiny picture of him, it was no bigger than a postage stamp, one of him and one of Terry when they were living down in Arkansas and we were living there, and they had a--what was it, a fair? A fair, or something was there.

Ben: Something like that, a carnival.

Granny: A carnival, and then they always have somebody that takes pictures, y'know, get into that little thing--Martha wanted to get a picture of him. And got one of Terry, he was sitting there like this, and then Benny--like this. He didn't want his picture taken.

Ben: Actually, I think there's a series--a whole series of pictures of me struggling and hiding my face and crying. Somehow I still don't think it's too cute.

Granny: But sure you do.

Ben: No I don't.

Granny: You don't want a picture that's posed, and like they'd used to take them, and they'd take all the lines out of your face and everything. Sure you'd look good, but it isn't you. You don't have those character lines in your face and that--makes you what you are. And a chin that don't stick out. Well, look at her. Now tie your legs in a knot. [Laughs]

side six

Granny: [Recalling a Christmas program Ben emceed in second grade.] . . . something, and we went, and we weren't very close to the front either. And when it started the curtains came apart, and he came out, stood there on the corner of the stage, told us what was going to happen next, disappeared, they came out and did what they did, and then he came out again and said what was going on next--you would hear him way down in the--didn't bother him a bit. Get him home and he'd get under something. [Laughs]

Ben: Was that a Christmas program, and it was about--we did a Hawaiian Christmas song, something like that? I remember a little about that. But it was in Arkansas that I was supposed to be directing a choir?

Granny: Oh, that was when you were a baby. They'd have a church doings, like on a Sunday night, or a Saturday night or something--everybody'd bring some potluck, and we had a cute little minister. You know, just a nice, sweet person. And bring the kids, y'know, he said, bring the children. And then they'd have singing then, too, and Martha or Herman would hold him up so he could see, y'know, he'd stand up--the music was going like this, and the minister looked over and waved at him and said something, and he just was really going to it. [Laughs]

Ben: What made you move from Minneapolis to Arkansas?

Granny: Well, that was when Harry just got out of the sanitarium, the first winter, you know. And he wanted to get away from the snow and that, there was so much snow in Minnesota. And we went down and spent the winter down there. We rented a little cabin, a [indistinct] we called it, down at the lake, Norfork Lake. And we stayed there for the winter, of course we--Mother--GG was at your [Herman and Martha's] house quite a bit.

Ben: So my parents were already there?

Granny: Yeah. Your folks were there. And then we--Harry liked it down there, and he said, y'know, the winters aren't severe and that. So he says, "Let's sell up there. The winters are so cold" and that. And they had judged him when he left the sanitarium as--

Ben: Permanently disabled?

Granny: Permanently disabled and unemployable. And he says, "I will find something to do." So we sold our place [in Bloomington]. Well, we had two places on it and we separated, and sold them separately. And went down there; we bought a piece of land on the highway. Just out of the town. And we built a house, and we had somebody come in and make three big ponds and I don't know how they filled them--the rain, I suppose, rain, and then he put water in too from that big well he had. And we sold bait of all kinds, you know. We had people from New York and Washington state--all over the United States. They made those two big artificial lakes [reservoirs] there. And we had a pretty good little business, and then finally Herman decided to go to California.

He had a man, an assistant, and he was teaching him the [sheet metal] trade, and, you know what that guy was doing while Herman was teaching him? He was soft soaping people and getting people to come [to him on the side], and he bought them--he started a sheet metal business--[indistinct] was undercutting him and everything, you know. That was--Herman got disgusted and said he wanted to go to California. So he piled all his tools into the little Ford he had, and they had a brand-new truck, and he drove the little Ford out there to California, and he bought a house, bought a bed, a refrigerator and a stove, and left Martha there.

And Harry helped her, and somebody else helped her load all the rest of the furniture and stuff on this truck, and they had it full, and I had bought a cute little rocking chair, a child's rocking chair at a sale, and they couldn't find a space to put that or the high chair. So Dad tied those two on the back of the truck--it was all canvas over everything, and these two little chairs on the back of that. And, oh, Herman had left several months before. And when she was ready to leave it was just--I think it was just after Christmas [1954], and he [Ben] had a cold or something, he kept coughing, and he couldn't stop. [Demonstrates.] He kept on, and he kept on, the doctor couldn't find anything wrong with him, and she piled all three--she had little Paul in by that time. And she had those three kids in the cab, and she had built up the--on that side, so the--clothes they would need, and so there was room enough for them to stretch out. Terry was, geez, four years old.

Ben: Five.

Granny: He was five, almost five, I guess, there, him and Paul. [He was five.] And she started out. And a couple of days later one of her friends came over, and her husband, and she says, "Have you heard from Martha since she left?" I says, "No, I haven't. Oh, I imagine she's probably getting close to there by now. Everything's okay, I guess; there hasn't been any storm or anything." She looked at me kind of--it wasn't till the next day I found out that she had come across--I don't know how too--and she got into--what was it, New Mexico?

Ben: I think so.

Granny: Yeah, Albuquerque. She wasn't there; she had a--and she was at a--what place was that? And it started storming there. And the Highway Patrol told her to get off that highway, to go south. To Bosque. So she did what he said, and she got right into the worst of the storm. And she got down to that point where she was supposed to go back up again, and she--and it was so icy--she had a big, long chain in the front of the truck, in case of some kind of trouble, you know. And she pulled I think it was three different people up out of the ditch. That had slipped their cars into the ditch. And when she got up to, it wasn't to Albuquerque then, I think it was--or was it to--I think it was to Albuquerque, and she finally--when she got down to the bottom where the storm was the worst, all that was there was a little restaurant that was packed with people. So she went back to the truck, and the snow was going--that brand-new truck--and she said the snow was just--it was so windy. But she says she plugged on till she got back up to northern--north to Albuquerque, and she finally got a room. And she says, "The first thing I did was put you [Ben] and the kids in the tub and get you cleaned up," and then she got in and soaked to get the--she was exhausted, you know.

And then the next day she went on, and I guess she talked to Herman then. Oh, then she met him at Needles [California], I think. And she says, "The first thing we did [was] have an argument." And he had driven his brother's new car he had to Needles, and he says, "Now you go in the car. Take the children and go in the car," and he says, "I'll drive the truck then the rest of the way," and back to where they lived in Redondo Beach. And she says, "I won't do it. This truck has brought me this far; I'm not going to start driving a new car--somebody's new car now." She says, "I'm going to drive it the rest of the way."

And when she got there, she didn't know it, but somehow her billfold was missing. She figured one of the kids might have picked it and just tossed it out the window when they stopped or something, 'cause she says, "I hadn't been anyplace else." And she didn't have a driver's license, nothing. [Laughs] But he [Ben] was feeling pretty good [by] the time they got there, then. And these folks knew they had that storm and they didn't tell me. I says, "Why didn't you tell me?" "Why worry you about it," she says. "We knew you'd be worried. We were worried, too." But she made it all the way. She'll do a thing if she has to.

Ben: She told me she felt like she was in The Grapes of Wrath, y'know, with the overloaded truck and her three kids traveling from Arkansas to California.

Granny: Well, you can imagine, you know. They did it. They got there. Three little kids like that, my gosh. [To Shelley] What do you see?

Shelley: The sweet peas. They look so pretty over there against the garage.

Granny: I bet it does, too.

Shelley: Pink and purple and red.

Granny: That's what the colors you see are, are they? [Laughs] I'm picking on my arm--I get dry spots.

Gladys: I do too.

Granny: You know where I get them too? Along my spine there. When I go to--sometimes I dig a little bit too deep.

Ben: Did you get to see her [Matie's] shirt? Show Granny where you hiked to.

Gladys: Lake Louise.

Granny: Oh, that's Lake Louise.


Ben: [Would you tell about when] Grandpa was trying to teach you how to drive?

Granny: Oh, Wallace tried to teach me before, while Harry was in the sanitarium [Glen Lake Sanatorium in Oak Terrace, Minnesota, just west of Minneapolis]. He had a brand-new Buick, that Dynaflow [automatic transmission], and all you had to do was pull a--[lever]. And we [Grandpa and Granny] made a trip out West for a month, and then he says, "I'll go to the sanitarium and spread these germs around." [Laughs] Go off by ourselves, come back and the health department guy came out, and he says, "Brown, if you don't go to the hospital this week, I'm going to bring an officer out with me and make you go." So he went then.

Ben: Was he afraid that he'd never come home? Was that why he had to get everything done?

Granny: That's the way he was. That time he had to go to the Veterans Hospital, when they thought his appendix was going to burst, he had things that he had to take care of at home before. When he went to the sanitarium he went up north to Minneapolis to my mother's; she was living with her sister up there; they were both widows. And he went up and told my mother he wanted her to come back and live with--be with me while he was in the sanitarium. He got the house all fixed up for me--we moved out of our house. The rent from the house made the mortgage payment, and his pension, and what little I was getting there, then the house took care of us while he was in the hospital.

Shelley: How long was he in the sanitarium?

Granny: A year. He had two operations where they removed his ribs and collapsed his lung and got--they filled him full of penicillin and nearly killed him; he had blisters all over himself--his scalp and everything from that stuff. And then they put tape to hold the bandages on him or to push his lungs--push the lung down so it would collapse, and he had to keep that on. When he went nuts for two days, and they came in and took all that tape off, and he looked just like it was beefsteak. His skin was all gone and he just--and they had an awful time curing him.

And then when we went down to Arkansas he cracked a rib just getting out bed. I think he was--he was getting pretty bad and he wouldn't go to town. "I'll have the doctor bandage it." And neither one of us thought of it--to use tape on it. Went home, and Harry got up in the middle of the night. He says, "I can't stand it. I hurt just terrible." I got up, and he says, "Take that tape off of me." So when it got morning we went to town; we went to the doctor. And Harry says, "I can't stand it. You know that stuff--I didn't think of it when I had it in Minnesota." "Oh," [the doctor] said, "That's nothing." He gave Harry a prescription; he said to me, "Now take a big towel and tie it around him below that--" And he says, "Then you put that stuff all over that--his body." Then I--when I did it I knew why he had [me tie the towel around him]--the water just poured out of his--it had collected or something. So then it was okay. So when we went back to Minneapolis he went to the doctor, and he says, "I want the prescription of that; I'm going to take it out to the sanitarium when I get there and give it to them." And, boy, did they ever thank him. Now that little bitty town down there, and that doctor knew what to do. And up in the sanitarium the big shot doctors didn't know anything.

Ben: So was teaching you to drive one of the things that he wanted to do before he went into the sanitarium?

Granny: Well, he wanted me to, but I--it was Wallace [who] got me in the car. He came in and he shoved me over to the driver's seat, and he says, "You've got to drive," and we had to go out of Minneapolis--[Highway] 169 is so narrow, and then down through--to Shakopee, then across to Hopkins. And I was going pretty good, I thought, until a car started honking the horn behind me. I wasn't going fast enough to suit him. And finally Wallace says, "Turn off here; we'll take a shortcut across here."

Well, I got there and parked the car, and I went up to see Harry and I sat down; he looked at me and he says, "What's the matter with you? You're shaking." I says, "Wallace made me drive out here." And Harry had a laugh. And I was just shaking; I was just wet. Going home I said, "You drive this car there." But I would take it out of the garage, back it out, turn it and go up and we were on a--to school out in Bloomington there and around, and a couple of my neighbors saw me and they did like this, but then I--a friend of ours put the car in the garage and I--and that guy, he would take me out to the hospital to see Harry, but he wouldn't drive our car. He had an old, old car. I paid him, y'know, for gas and that. But he wouldn't--I says, "Harry wants you to drive that, because he wants the wheels to be--the tires have to be--" He wouldn't; he says, "I'm scared of those cars. They tell me a gotta-go goes out and your car's no good, and I won't drive it." So I sat there till Harry got home. [Laughs]

Then down there [in Arkansas] I took it out, went through the woods, y'know, from that--pretty drive, and the ferry, went along so fine, got to the road where you turned, Harry says, "You're going to come to that turn now. Slow up; you've got to make that turn to that road to go to the highway." What did I do? Instead of slowing up I stepped on the gas, and didn't make the turn--I almost hit the corner post to that fence. And I just stopped like that. Harry says, "Start it up." Well, I got it going, got up to the highway, stopped it again, I got out, went around to--kind of rapped on his window, I says, "Let me in. Get out. Finish driving this." I never touched it again. I guess I'm too dumb.

Ben: They should have started you out easier. Highway driving's not easy.

Granny: No, I know it isn't. I know my sister had it better. She--her husband had a Buick, and she--one day he was out in the fields working, and she went and opened the pasture gate and she got in the car and said, "Come on, we're going for a ride." [Laughs] I think she hit all the cow pancakes. She went round and round in the pasture.

Ben: I've done that with Anna [then ten years old]. Anna has driven that motorhome, in a big parking lot. She loved it.

Granny: Well, that's what Harry did with Martha when we--he was in town working. She was working, she went to meet him, and he says, "Get in the car and drive it." She had to drive it all the way home. Out of the blue, he says. [Laughs]

Ben: That's a trial by fire.

Granny: Yeah, that was it. She was pretty darned good. I remember the first time, it was in--when we were out at your place--when you lived in Redondo Beach [California] and we went shopping. And we were driving along--oh, there was a lot of people coming out--and all at once she--guy slowed up ahead of her and she just ticked him on the side. The brakes failed. "I've never had an accident, I've never had an accident in my life, I've never had an accident."

Gladys: Who was this?

Granny: Martha. And [indistinct] he was real nice, the guy, didn't cost him hardly anything. Got the insurance guy, just the side a little bit. And Herman never said a word. Well, it wasn't her fault either, the darned--he had to come and pick us up. He did something to it, and then he says, "You drive the other one and then I'll get back home too."

Last revised November 27, 2015