Aunt Susie’s Memoirs- Part 3 Childhood and the Great Depression and more (continued)

The continuing memoirs of my great aunt, Susan Luella Donoho Stokes (1923-2013), written in 1992.

Part 2 here:

Part 1 (her marriage in the 1940s) here:

Dad and I was sitting at the table and he was showing me how to put the date upon the letter. It was March 1928. I had gone to school about six months, but I had never written a letter before. I was five years and three months old then. I must have wrote ‘Dear Flossie, How are you? I am fine and hope you are the same.’ Forever after that, I thought that every letter should start out that way.

I remember after that, I had a dime. I don’t know where I got it but I must have got it while I was sick for kids just didn’t have money back then and I was wondering what I would buy with it. Myrtle begged me to buy a curling iron which I did and she used it on her hair. She was fifteen and I remember her holding the iron over the lamp chimney until it got hot and then curling her hair. I never remembered my hair being curled back then which it probably wasn’t. All the kid’s hair was worn about the same then, with bangs and just down below the ears and high in the back like a men’s hair is cut. Of course, my hair was blonde and straight as a pin. My hair was light-colored but not as blonde as Emogene’s. Kathleen’s hair was lighter than mine too but Dica had brown hair.

I don’t remember how long we lived at the Branch place. For a kid, time just goes along. Anyway, we moved to the Langford place where, if it is still standing which it isn’t, would be about a half a mile from where Myrtle and Earl live now. And it was here that we lived when Myrtle married Earl. She was sixteen and Dad was the preacher that married them.

I remember going to school one morning and grabbing up a bucket with a lid on it thinking that it was my lunch. We carried half gallon pails then and they were all alike. I remember tossing it around while I walked. At lunch time, I opened it and it was a bucket of eggs and not a one of them was broken. My teacher made all the kids divide their lunches with me and I had the best lunch I ever had in my life. For one thing, I had an apple and it tasted so good. We took biscuits and eggs or biscuits and jelly or jam that mother had made. So this was really a treat. I would have really like to have gotten the buckets mixed up again but never did.

Harvey* was dating Marie* and Roy* was dating Eunice* which they both married. But I remember the Sunday that they had them at our house. I can see them as if it were yesterday. Eunice wore her hair in three braided buns around her head and I thought her and Marie were both so pretty. Eunice never had her hair cut in her life. She is in her eighties now (this is 1992). Today we are good friends, but in those days, I would do things to pester her and I guess I wasn’t the sweetest little kid in the world. And if someone didn’t like for me to do something, that’s what I wanted to do.

(*Her older brother Harvey Donoho 1912-1989

(*Marie Sands, sister to her sister Myrtle’s husband, Earl- 1911-1985

(*Eldest brother Roy Donoho 1902-1991 and his wife, Eunice Meador 1904-1999

Flossie had married Don and brought him home from Jackson, Michigan to meet us. He had never been on a farm and he was in his teens. It was all new to him. I don’t know why but I was always afraid of him and if he wanted me to bring him a drink of water, I was always right there with it. He seemed to be always wanting someone to wait on him. He was just a teenager, I guess.

I remember the time all of us kids got an old gray horse and rode it to school. There was Irene Sands, she was sitting up by it’s ears, Mary Jane Hays who was six years old (the same age as I was) was next on it’s neck, then me and Mildred Hays, who was nine, Dica, who was also nine, Irma, twelve and Ruby Hays, fifteen, and there wasn’t any room for Sam*. He was about eleven. So he rode on its hoofs, holding onto its tail. I don’t know who the horse belonged to but now I feel sorry for it. We were having such good fun though. The road was muddy and I can still see us all. How Sam’s legs would go in when the horse took a step and back out again. The folks must not have known about us riding it for I can’t see them letting us. What kids won’t do!

(*my grandfather, Samuel M. Donoho 1918-1997

This I almost forgot, it was Christmas, 1927. I was four years old, Dica was seven. Our sister Flossie was working at the shoe factory in Salem, Illinois. She bought Dica a big doll with real hair and Santa Claus brought me one with painted hair. I can barely remember this but I remember how mad I was. I got the scissors and cut all the hair off of Dica’s doll’s head. It looked awful, for it had been glued on and Dica, how much she cried! I don’t remember the spanking I must have gotten, but I do remember me never liking my doll.

Now it is 1930, Christmas again. This time I got four or five little china dolls, a little tea kettle and a wash pan. The last two things I have had for these 62 years. But the little dolls, I only kept them for two days. I had them all in a box, carrying them around and stubbed my toe on the door sill. The dolls went everywhere and broke everyone of their heads off. I was heart broken. As mother always said “Don’t get Susie to crying, for she don’t know when to stop.” and it didn’t seem like I could and I still feel sad when I think of this.

We moved to Alma, Illinois. This was in 1930 or 31 and Alma was our mailing address. As always, we lived in the country, about a half of a mile from Aunt Frona and Uncle Wall Thomas. We could see their house from ours. Aunt Frona’s mother and grandmother both lived with them. Us kids would call them Grandma Lid, (Aunt Frona’s mother and Aunt Molly, her grandmother) Grandma Lid was a big woman with a big voice and she didn’t like kids. Her mother was real small and I loved her.

My dad always chewed tobacco and when he would run out, he would say “Susie, run down and ask Lid for some tobacco.” for she chewed too. I sure didn’t like to go but it would have been out of the question for me to say no. I would go to their house and Uncle Wall, Grandma Lid and Aunt Molly would be sitting around a big wood burning stove in their living room. I was so shy I could hardly hold my head up but I would tell her that my dad had sent me to ask her for some tobacco. She would laugh loud and hike up her dress which was down to her shoe tops, then her underskirt and then her flannel bloomers. They were below her knees and had a pocket in them and that’s where she kept her ‘tobaccy.’ She would cut off a piece and give it to me. Then Aunt Frona would help me up into the attic over their kitchenn to get her some potatoes and onions they had stored there so she could cook them for dinner. Then I would take the tobacco home to my dad and while he was cutting a chunk of it off, I would tell him where Grandma Lid kept it, (hoping he would never send me again) and he would put the chaw in his mouth and wouldn’t say a word, but would throw back his head and laugh. I know now that he knew where she kept it.

Then once a month my dad and mother would go away for the weekend. To Church (Pleasant Grove, where we lived before we moved to Alma.) He was the minister there and was until he died. But this is getting ahead. Anyway, us kids would stay at home. Sam, 13, Dica, 11, me, 9, Emogene, 5, Kathleen, 3. We liked it fine and wasn’t afraid. Dica would cook on the wood-burning range annd I would help her with the dishes and Sam would take care of milking the cows and chopping the wood and feeding the chickens. And I remember gathering the eggs and carrying in the wood for the stove and Dica would make the beds and sweep the floors. It was so quiet and no one bothered us. In the winter time when we were alone, we would go out and get some snow and make snow ice cream. For which, if Mother was home she would never let us use the sugar. Which I can now say, I never had too much sweets when I was little and I seem to have a craving for them now.

Will continue part 4 tomorrow if I get more time!

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