PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
As I end my columns for 2013, I realize that I had promised many people to tell the rest of the stories which I began in October regarding my grandmother. The purpose was to encourage people to gather and record family stories for future generations.
My grandmother Maggie was born in 1883, the last child of a family of eight. By the time she was a little girl of age five, half of her siblings were already grown and gone from the home.
As such, she had duties of helping her mother in the gardens of the 160 acre farm, as well as caring for the chickens and picking fruit from the orchards.
She walked two miles a day to the one-room schoolhouse, then another mile in the opposite direction to get the mail from the general store and post office.
Once of age, she was allowed to use one of her father’s stable of horses to ease the journey down the hill and cross the covered bridge for the mail.
A rare treat was a trip into town, some 15 miles distant, to visit a cousin of similar age. During the summer, she was sometimes allowed to stay for a week and visit.
Her cousin took her to see the town library, first located on the third floor of the lyceum, open only to read the books in the library if the family had “joined the Association.”
Later, it became a public library funded by the town, and books were permitted to be taken home to read and she hurried to finish the book before returning to the farm.
As she grew to be a young lady, the town library moved to a massive building funded by Andrew Carnegie which offered more books than could be imagined, and Maggie roamed the book stacks wishing that she had the opportunity to use it more often.
She finished the country schoolhouse with the 8th grade, as that was all the grades offered unless you could board in-town and attend the high school located there.
Maggie was needed on the farm to help with chores as only two of the boys remained to help her father.
At age 22, she found a job on the neighboring Hall Farm serving as a domestic to an elderly couple who had the same problem that their large family had slowly moved away. An older son had purchased the agricultural portions of the farm, but help was needed in the household.
The Hall’s youngest son remained on the farm, and was a teamster using his horses to move loads from farm to farm. He was a handsome fellow, and they eventually married and acquired their own farm.
Technology was coming to the farm from a crank telephone to the automobile. Maggie argued with her husband about their new 1929 Model A Ford; she wanted a rumble seat in the back and he wanted a trunk to carry farm products. He won.
Maggie’s husband died shortly thereafter, and with the difficulty of farming the hilly landscape, she and their son moved to town where jobs were more plentiful.
She was used to the rural lifestyle, and living in town was difficult. Maggie got a job as a cleaning lady in the town hospital, but was offended when her boss tried to tell her how to clean things.
Her next job was helping to care for a large family, but she found that her country cooking was not to the liking of the city folks, and the kids were too ornery and city folks didn’t seem to spank their children.
A new factory came to town, and she got a job working in the cafeteria that served the workers, and that seemed to work well with her experience.
Well, it worked until she got a new boss who stood and looked over everyone’s shoulder while they served the employees in the cafeteria.
At the afternoon break, she was scooping ice cream to make cones, and the lady kept saying, “Maggie, that scoop is too big” while she waited on the employees lined up for cones.
Finally she had enough of this correcting an employee in front of the customers, so she turned around and used her ice cream scooper to deliver a scoop of ice cream right into her boss’s face.
Maggie then said, “Don’t bother firing me, I guit!” and she walked out the door and took the bus home.
She called her son, and said that she would live with them and help care for the family. She did until she died at age 95.