Starting A Family

I was so scared of babies that Twila didn't dare have one, to start with, but after four years she decided I might live through the ordeal. The cows were increasing fast then and I had about all the chores I could handle, milking by hand.

We were going to have Jerrianne in March of 1941 and Twila's sister Marie was going to come from Utah and help that summer. Marie got here March 5th, Twila went to the hospital that night and Jerri was born early the next morning, so I had a housekeeper the whole time. [239-7]

Marie had quite a time cooking, to start with. She had never cooked on a wood range before. I came in and found her holding down on a kettle, waiting for it to cook, but she hadn't thought to fire up first! [241-3]

Marie caught such a cold coming to this frigid climate that she didn't go to the hospital to see Twila and Jerri. The first day I went up to see them, a nurse came out into the hall carrying something in a blanket and said, "Do you want to see your little daughter?" [240-1]

I had never seen a newborn baby before and when she opened the blanket I said, "Ugh! They're awful-looking things, aren't they?" Twila heard me and she sure hollered!

Twila wanted to name the baby Jerry Ann, but Mrs. Risse, the head nurse, wouldn't put a "boy's" name on the birth certificate, so Twila and Marie settled for "Geraldine Annette," thinking they could nickname her Jerry Ann. We always called her Jerry or Jerry Ann and she never knew what her official name was until she was ready to start school.

Later, when she was in high school, it turned out to be a mess. She got mail and school documents with so many versions of her name that we finally went with her to see a lawyer and a judge; when she was 18, she got her name legally changed to Jerrianne for $50 and she paid the lawyer herself. [240-4]

Twila spent most of the 11 or 12 days she was there out on what they called "the porch" with three other new mothers. I would bring them all malted milks from downtown when I came to visit.

One day, Mrs. Townsend, the wife of one of Fergus's two malt shop owners, was there when I brought malts from their competitor's shop. Somebody came to visit her and she almost blushed -- and then made a joke about lying there, drinking one of their competitor's malts. They really had a ball, after the first two or three days, just lying around, visiting and being waited on. [240-3]

Ten days in the hospital was normal then, but Twila and Jerri had to stay another day or two, because of the "Ides of March Blizzard," on March 15-16, 1941.

Marie and I went up to see Twila and Jerri on a nice, balmy, evening and stopped in at the City Restaurant for "lunch" on the way home. When we stepped back out of there, about 11 p.m., the wind was blowing the snow so hard you couldn't see two feet in front of you. It was almost as bad as the "Armistice Day Blizzard," the previous November. [240-7]

I think we were the last ones to leave town that night and when we got half way home, creeping along with the windows open, trying to see the road, we caught up to the Skaar brothers, going about five miles per hour. When we got to the corner, they didn't dare go north, where the wind hit harder, so they followed us home; they stayed until daylight and it was a little better then. [241-2]

I didn't dare touch Jerri for at least three months. After that I got so I could hold her, if she wasn't wet or anything and didn't spit up, and before long, I thought she was the cutest thing I had ever seen. I got over being scared of kids (if they didn't need their diapers changed). [240-5] [249-5]

When Jerri was 2-1/2 years old, I pulled the corn binder up by the garage to fix something. I was down under it and she was watching me. I said, "Bring me that (or I wish I had that) big pipe wrench" and she went right into the garage and came out with the big pipe wrench for me. [249-6]

One day Jerri was sitting at the table and belching real loud, showing off. We laughed at her while she was drinking grape juice and I said, "Do you like that grape juice?" She said, "No, but it sure makes good burps." [264-7]

Twila wasn't in on the "outdoor life" too much in those years. She was busy raising kids: Jerri and Bobby and Kathy, each two years apart. [254-5]

One day when Bobby was a baby, Twila was out of sight for a few minutes and when she came back, Jerri said, "I oi'ing Bobby, I oi'ing Bobby." She had poured his face and eyes full of baby oil while he was sleeping. [His eyes were level full, but he was sleeping at the time so the oil didn't go into his eyes.] [249-7]

When Kathy was a baby, Twila was out a few minutes again. When she came back, Bobby had stuffed Kathy's mouth full of cotton batting, pulled from a hole in an upholstered chair. [249-8]

For several years, we went fishing at Mill Lake every week in the summers. We kept the steel boat out on the government point and built a picnic table there. We would always be able to catch plenty of sunfish and fry them right there. Quite often, we had company on those trips and sometimes all of our various babysitters went along. [258-4

This all came to an end when Jerri and Bobby and Kathy got old enough to rebel against staying on shore and it was too dangerous to take them all in the boat. The sunfish started to get smaller and smaller, too, and finally weren't worth bothering with. [258-5]

Pa was a pretty good kid entertainer. he would take Jerri along to town when she was a couple of years old and hand her through the Post Office window to the Postmistress (Harriet Langlie) to make a fuss over. [263-1]

At one age, Jerri would run away from Twila in the big stores in Fergus and hide under the counters while Twila and the clerks hunted frantically for her. We had been to the State Fair a few years before that and saw several people who had harnesses on their kids so they wouldn't get lost in the crowds. We got a harness like that and it really worked well, although some people took a dim view of leading kids on a leash. [263-2]

Jerri and I both got bored during the numerous shopping trips to Fergus. I suppose she was in the 3 to 5 age bracket. We would go to the Johnson Drug lunch counter (or Muggs' Ice Cream Parlor) and have chocolate malted milks while Twila shopped and we both enjoyed ourselves. [He "helped" me with mine by drinking about half of it before I even got a crack at it, much to my annoyance! --JL] [263-3]

Jerri and Bobby were having perpetual tonsil infections about the time Kathy was a baby. Doc Randall decided that Jerri needed to have her tonsils out. I've always thought that it was a dirty trick we pulled on the poor kid, and not necessary, either, if we had known that sulfa drugs and penicillin, etc. were being developed right then. [263-4]

I stayed with her in the hospital and watched the operation and stayed in the same room overnight. Twila had to stay home with the baby. Jerri didn't know what was coming and I think we both suffered about equally when she got the ether. [I don't think so. I thought the doctors were going to kill me and that he was watching them do it. I was absolutely terrified -- and bewildered when I woke up and threw up blood. It was a colossal blunder not to tell me what it was happening. --JL]

Luckily, the new drugs came out in time to save Bobby from going through the same thing. [263-5]

One spring, the snow melted and made a lake in the hollow behind the Knutson house (where Beaver lived later and Ben lives now) and then froze again and made a real good skating rink. Pa took Jerri and Bobby and Kathy on it and pulled and pushed them on their sleds on the ice. Jerri told Doc Randall what a good time they had and then she said, "I think Grandpa enjoyed it, too!" [Afterwards, I believe we made hand cranked ice cream with ice from the pond.] [263-6]

One day the folks took Bobby and Jerry somewhere with them in the 4-door 1935 Plymouth [to the creamery in Evansville or Brandon]. Bobby unlatched the back door and fell out on the road, while they were driving, probably about 30 miles an hour, near Melby. Luckily, he only got skinned up a little. [263-7]

Pa would come down quite often and offer to take one or two of the kids for the day so Twila could get something done. He would say, "Send the worst one," or sometimes "send the two worst ones," [per Grandma's instructions; Bobby was the one she wanted the most. --JL] and it got to be a toss-up whether to send Bobby or Jerri or Bobby and Kathy. [263-8]

One day, Ma and Jerri were going to walk down through the woods and Jerri took off on the run and disappeared into the woods. She was only going to "beat Grandma" and was safely home when Ma got there. [264-1]

We had various babysitters when the first three were small. Ruthie Boe would try to rock the kids to sleep but it didn't work. She sang so pretty that they stayed awake to listen. [264-2]

We only had a washtub for a bathtub and one night one of the babysitters was taking a bath in the kitchen while I was safely gone for a couple of hours, feeding and milking the cows. One of the milker inflations broke that night so I ran up to the house to get a new one, and I hit both doors on the run. It was OK, though -- the babysitter went up the stairs so fast, I only saw a pink streak. Don't start guessing -- it wasn't any of the ones mentioned here. [264-3]

Joan Hoff and Marilyn Anderson were there a lot. They were quite young but the two made a real good team. Joan was so good with kids and Marilyn did the housework. They even stayed and took care of the house and the kids while Twila went to Utah for a trip home. I remember we went to Fergus to watch a parade while she was gone. The parade was so slow in coming that the kids got so tired they laid right down on the sidewalk. Joan and Marilyn and I wound up holding all three of them during the whole parade, and did they get heavy! [264-4]

One day, one of the girls set a saucepan of boiling water on the high chair, in transit from the stove to the sink to sterilize dishes. It was there just for a few seconds, but Kathy walked over and grabbed the handle -- to get a drink of water from the "dipper" -- and tipped it over onto herself. She got burned pretty badly, but luckily, the scars were where they don't show. Then she got pneumonia and Twila and Kathy had to spend a few days in the hospital. [264-5]

Two mothers with two kids the same age with pneumonia were in the same room. The other mother was Mrs. Ted Rohloff. That was when penicillin was just coming in and the doctors only dared give little shots, several times a day. The poor kids sure suffered then, getting their butts punched every two or four hours, or so. [264-6]