Recently I was invited to the meeting of the Landeck CL of C Ladies. What an interesting evening with that fun loving group. The topic for the meeting was Reminiscence.
Catherine Heitz, president, led the conversations with questions from a book “To Our Children’s Children”, subtitled “Preserving Family History for Generations to Come,” by Bob Green and D. G. Fulford.
The idea of using this topic was to encourage people to write their life story, or memoir so that our children’s children and so on down the line can read what life was like when we were growing up.
My friend Irma from Kalida wrote “The Life and Times of Irma Miller Wehri Morman.” Irma actually wrote four editions of her autobiography. Her first effort was only 16 pages but her fourth manuscript, taking her to 2006, has 225 hand written pages with pictures. It is very interesting, even if you are not part of the family.
Alice Heitmeyer’s biography was written by her daughter Mary. Alice has passed away but she kept a daily journal, which was very helpful to Mary. Alice and I often traveled together and she kept a daily journal of our travels, which is very enjoyable to me.
I know several people who have written very interesting life stories, including my uncle and aunt, Ralph and Christine. Both are interesting but her story tells about life in Germany, in the 30s and 40s, when Hitler was in power. Those of us who live in our free country of America can not imagine the horrors under Hitler.
As we reminisced at the C L of C meeting; we wondered “How did we survive?” We didn’t have car seats for the kids. Catherine remembered her Ruen family of 11 all piled into their 1936 Chevy to go anywhere. Each had an appointed spot to sit. Mom and Dad had the front seat with the two youngest children.
We got on the subject of barns and how they are disappearing from the country side. Someone gave me a list of 30 barns that once graced the landscape around Landeck but are no more. Some went down with the 1948 tornado and several in the area went down with the big storm of June 29. Even pole barns blew down in that storm.
Barns provided a favorite place to play—like swinging on the ropes or jumping from the hay mow into a pile of hay. Many barns became home basketball courts.
When we moved to the country in 1963, we were fortunate to have an old barn on the farm. It was a great attraction for our kids and all the “town” kids who came to play. One Sunday, Bill and his friends made tunnels in the bales of hay in the mow. It was very exciting and fun until my Dad discovered the situation. He made them quit because of the danger of someone getting trapped if the bales came down on someone.
Theresa Rahrig told the story of her father, Omer Pothast, sitting on the sling attached to the ropes used for pulling up hay into the mow. Tess’ brothers pulled on the rope, taking their Dad to the top of the barn; then they ran away. Her Dad told Tess (who was just 4 or 5 years old) how to pull on the rope to get him back down. I’ll bet that wasn’t the end of the story!
We talked about the things our kids did while growing up. Ruth Hammons had twins who loved to play with the pots and pans in the kitchen. (Mine did that too. They did their “cooking” on the floor.) One twin disappeared so Ruth went on the hunt. She found the child sleeping in the cupboard. The other one had closed the door on his sibling. Ruth had many good stories to tell.
One lady told of driving down the road at a higher speed than allowed. She was stopped by the State Highway Patrol, who was kind to just give her a warning when one of the boys popped his head over the seat, saying “My mom always drives like this!”
Catherine Heitz told of her husband, Mel, falling asleep in church. Little four year old Kevin said “Dad! Wake up! Nobody else is sleeping!”
Helen Geise Kimmett and I were country neighbors. On Sunday afternoon, we played softball in the Geise cow pasture along Rt. 190. The Rode kids also came over and sometimes the Trenkamp kids joined us. We had to watch where we stepped. Helen said we used some of those dried up ones for bases. In the winter, when the Jennings Creek was frozen over, we walked or skated from their house to the railroad bridge.
Did you ever hear of or see any dung beetles? Several women told how fascinating it was to watch these beetles roll a ball of dung down the dirt cow path. My mom always got the cows in at milking time so I don’t remember these little critters or insects.
When you talk about Landeck, the story of the 1948 tornado always comes up. It was “about” noon on St. Joseph’s Day, March 19. Most people are aware that two little boys died in church when the steeple crashed down on them. Other kids were playing outside when the weather became “weird.” We didn’t have warning sirens or TV at that time. When one of the Sisters (a teacher) rang the bell early for the kids to get inside, there were three boys who didn’t want to go in early so they hid in the “outhouse” The three of them, Melvin Heitz, Joe Youngpeter and Tom Trentman, were hiding in there when the tornado hit. They saw the little old privy lift up off the foundation, so they ran to school for cover.
Hups Kaverman was a young man of 23 at that time (before I knew him). Hups was a mechanic in Delphos who went home (to Landeck on State Road) for a good home-cooked lunch. When it got windy, he went to the basement to close the windows. He looked to the southwest and was shocked. He told his parents, “The church steeple is gone.”
His youngest brother, Ralph was a student at “Landeck University” at that time. Hups tore off in his car for Landeck. He and Art Rode Sr. were first to arrive. Telephone lines were down so the priest sent them to Delphos for help. Both funeral homes had ambulance service at that time.
That was a very sad day in Landeck.
One question asked by Catherine was “What was the weirdest or most fascinating room in your house?”
For us, it must have been the attic, over the garage. My brother and his wife are my next door neighbors. Our kids grew up together and one of their favorite places to play was in our attic. Last summer the girls came over to visit. “Can we go to the attic?” They brought members of the next generation along to visit that special place. There are still many “treasures” up there.
So now you get the idea!
My mother filled in the little book “Grandma’s Journal,” dated January 1986. That was shortly after Dad died and my mom passed away at the age of 90 in 2007. We found the book among her things. It’s very precious. One question in the book was: “Did you have an attic? A basement?’ Mom’s answer to the basement question was: “Basement – yes – in the 1913 flood I rode around in the tub — and I had a wooden paddle used to stomp clothes for washing – my Mother made. Water was up to the third step.” She also mentioned that “Main Street was a mud street and sidewalks were of wood boards.”
You can buy these little books like “Grandmother’s Gift – A Memory Book for My Grandchild” or “A Grandparents Book” or use a three ring binder.
I did write my husbands biography a couple years ago and gave it to my kids and grandchildren for Christmas. Don’t forget to write names on the backs of your pictures. Now I guess I better practice what I preach.
Here’s a little quote form one of these grandparent books: “When your grandchildren know and understand your life story, they will better understand who they are and how they got where they are – their heritage, their background and their roots.”
Promise yourself to take on this project during the winter, with the snow and ice all around. Keep the book near your easy chair and write when your thoughts come to mind.
Just one more thing the CL of C social committee topped the evening off with a very delicious made from scratch Angel Food Cake.