A Visit From Aunt Ella
Top left: Amelia and Bennie (circa 1932) at the farm, early spring (garden in background appears to be flooded; it flooded every spring).
Top right: Amelia and Bennie with Ardelle Johnson Blazeski, at Ashby farm, circa 1946.
Bottom: Donald, Bennie, Amelia, Aunt Ella Noble [Amelia's mother's sister], Model A Ford.
Excerpt from Donald B. Johnson manuscript:
"Ma was quite a gardener, so we tried lots of exotic things and sent for lots of seeds (including yard-long beans), but most of them didn't pan out like the pictures, or we didn't care for the stuff when it came to eating it, so the garden got back to the basics, after a year or two." [12.71-6]
"We had heard that peanuts grew well on sandy land and we had plenty of that, so Ma ordered some planting peanuts from the seed catalog. We had sort of a garden over on the hill facing Lake Christina, and we harvested some rather undersized peanuts and put them out to dry on the flat porch roof (where the kitchen addition is now). When we looked up there again, a squirrel was just leaving with the last of them." [12.71-5]
"Aunt Ella lived for years on the money she got selling her two farms. She would get a big down payment and then, when the buyers couldn't make it, she would get the farms back. She would sell them again with another big down payment. The farms were in the good farming country near Blooming Prairie and were easy to sell, but the buyers usually got too far into debt. Farming wasn't very profitable then, so they would go broke.
"None of the buyers ever cheated her out of anything; they would just come and tell her they couldn't make it and forfeit the farms back to her; usually, with the taxes paid up to date and everything." [38.206-3]
"We got Christmas cards from Aunt Ella as long as she lived and they were always second hand. She just erased the original names with a coarse eraser and put her name on instead." [38.206-2]
"The summer after Twila and I came back to Minnesota, Aunt Ella got a couple of old maids who had a car to bring her to Ashby on a visit and checking-up trip. After they had been here a while and she was satisfied that we hadn't had to get married, she went out to the car and brought in a whole bunch of wedding presents (like pillows and things) which I'm sure we wouldn't have seen if she hadn't thought things were completely aboveboard. [38.205-5]
"She also brought in a fancy old candy dish on a pedestal. It was real lacy originally, but it had been broken into a hundred pieces and crudely glued. It was a real eyesore, but she thought we would like something of hers to remember her by. As soon as she died, I threw it over the dump. I can still remember her anyway." [38.206-1]