Sunday, February 6, 2011

Boston??? -Decision '39-'40

There was a time while living in Chicago when our family might have moved to Boston, Massachusetts.  I have no idea whether it was a job transfer or a new opportunity. The subject was broached when all of us were together. Our parents discussed this for some time as a possible venture. Eventually a decision apparently made not to leave Chicago. How different all our lives would have been had we made another choice and moved northeast once again. 

After this very important decision was made another seed of an idea seem planted within our family. My father took extremely good care of the 2 flat we lived in as renters. The next door neighbors, the Hickeys, Especially the senior Hickeys were encouraging my parents to get a place of their own. Daddy's  job seemed secure. Economy was picking up. England and Germany were at war. Terrible things were happening over there. Some families had sons in military service. We would know this for a star was exhibited in front windows of these homes. I remember listening to the news on the radio in our living room the day Germany moved into Poland. This news was so frightening.

There were popular books being marketed. One my parents read was  Five Acres and Independence A Practical Guide to the Selection and Management of a Small Farm, which would give support for daddy to ‘give such a venture a try’.  Even some films were produced which probably encouraged daddy in his pursuits. He was bit with that bug. We have a paperback copy of 5 Acres on a shelf. Apparently Gran read it, also. [Beth Fellows Stewart, that is]

Eventually he would  take short drives out west of Chicago into the farmland. Perhaps weekly, he’d take turns with one of us children as companions, a date with daddy, looking for a small piece of farm land.  We loved our date with dad and exploring some exciting prospects.
Big White Letters Sunnybrook Farm

I recall on one excursion I accompanied him when he was seriously considering a particular farm. As I awaited in the car I read the words Sunnybrook Farm painted in large white letters on the front of a big red barn which seemed so romantic to me.

I had read the storybook, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin. This, however,  was not the one we chose.
Hebron, IL  intersection 47 and 123

Eventually, the land he found was in the township, Hebron, IL. This was not at all a small piece of land but a full fledged farm. This was more than a house on an acre. There were many farm buildings, and on 180 Acres of land, not 5 A. and much more investment than anticipated. Besides the farm house on this farm were a fading red cow barn, a milk house,  a pig pen, chicken coop, hen house, a corn crib, a granary and a large gray-black wooden 2-story horse barn. We were about to put flesh on his dream even though it would truly stretch his/our resources to succeed with something so large. Each of us would soon give our own meaning to the word independence

Acquiring this farm and determined to make a go of it we lost focus, attachment, relationship with the Bergin family in Fond du lac, WI. and the Morris family as well. Now we children could and would spend years of our lives on this farm of our very own near the State Line in Illinois. What we imagined were the vacation days at granddad Bergin’s farm in Fond Du lac, WI. This could only seem like a very exciting venture to us. Daddy made clear to each this was to be a family undertaking and any success would depend on each one of us. The reality of permanent farm life would paint a differing picture in the days ahead than the one we had of Granddad’s Farm. Daddy now saw farm ownership as something he would be able to accomplish. [with help from wife and kids]. As a matter of fact it could not have been successful without each one's input.

From the moment the decision was made on the property, while living yet in Chicago, I would see my daddy when home after his workday seated at the mahogany dining table. He would take out his drawing board and work on his plans for the house on this property using his engineering knowledge, things like a  basement, roof line, additions, landscape, etc.

Not directly related to this decision I want to include this in my tale. Throughout the 4 years we lived at this Greenview, Chicago address my father would invariably announce as he prepared to leave the house for his daily work, “I am off to college”. I do believe this statement was an important message from my parents that this is what we were to do, too. We saw it as an expectation. Education was valued highly and was to be continual.We were to continue our education beyond high school and into college. This was an expectation my father held and verbalized, and for that matter on-going as long as we lived. And so it has been for me, as there is ever something to know, to learn. Death is when I cease learning. 

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