Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I wouldn’t be able to find a room in the college dormitory immediately. I did put in a reservation for Sophomore year. Mother and I replied to a notice in the college office. A young family would like to share their home with a student in exchange for a girl’s assistance with the children and  homemaking. I met this family, Maurice [Mo] and Mavis Holtan and their toddlers Lynn and Johnny and an infant, Danny. Mo was 10 years older than his spouse. He ran a foundry in Slaughter, WI outside Milwaukee. They lived in a little home in the suburban area adjacent to Mount Mary. We accepted one another at first sight. They had a small, white framed 2 story bungalow with a picture window in the living room and a lamp set on a table in the middle of that window. After the war this is what people in suburbia uniformly did. Jokes were made about those lamps in windows. The homes had recently been built in this neighborhood. I don’t remember that there was a garage. There was a side door off the kitchen and a 2-track cement driveway so probably was one.
Exactly like the Holtan home w/o cul de sac-- Little Boxes

My bedroom was the downstairs den, never needing to close the door. Mo and Mavis bedroom was above the den. Often when Mo would return home late I would hear these loud thumping noises above me. I would wonder why he was so restless. As time passed I began to clue in to there being another activity in that bedroom. Too many movies, I suppose. I would live as one of the family, like their grown daughter, with all the family privileges. I helped with the meals just as I would at home. Cleanup we worked together. Mavis was a good cook, Norwegian tastes. She took sole care of Danny as a nursling. Only once I babysat him when they visited friends for an evening and he so missed his mother. Cried a long time. I would walk a distance to school. I don’t think I went home weekends. The family was so very nice to me as I to them. I often shared stories of my relationships with my own family, mother and dad, Elayne, Billy, Jimmy.

Friday nights I had looked forward to attending a movie. During early Spring it would be getting  dark when I left and very dark on return. I remember it being 3 blocks to Center Street where the bus ran. I’d get skittish and run most of the way to the house. 
Cornel Wilde and Gene Tierney

One special movie Leave Her To Heaven Cornell Wilde reminded me of Bruce. I recall, especially, the scene in this movie when Gene Tierney throws herself down the long stairway. Some other films were Best Years of Our Lives, Duel in the Sun, The Yearling, The Razor’s Edge, Till the Clouds Roll By, Road to Utopia, Blue Skies. There were possibly 10 Fridays I needed to fill in. 

Latter in Spring the Holton family suggested I invite Jimmy, now 10 years old,  for a visit and we would attend the Shriner’s Circus, tickets and all on the house. Mo was a Shriner. This was his response, I think, from my forever bragging about my kin. 

Jim took the Greyhound from Lake Geneva into Milwaukee. He stayed overnight, perhaps 2 nights. I do not recall. For sure we would have had a great chicken dinner always including Mavis’ great rectangular yummy baking powder biscuits and plenty of gravy. This visit has always been memorable for Jim and for me. And those biscuits. Never in all my attempts was I able to reproduce them.

Younger brother, Jimmy, in 1946

       Yes, some of my happiest memories are of the excitement of a trip up to see you all - to have big sisters & brother who are in college in a big city.  And who could ever forget the occasion of you having me come up for the Shrine Circus at the Milwaukee Auditorium with the Holton family and you - I was in 5th grade and gave a complete report to the 4th & 5th grades on what I saw, not however including the wiping up of delicious chicken gravy from my Sunday dinner plate at the Holtons - nothing quite that personal". 

North Woods Vacation with the Holtan Family

The family yearly vacationed in the Wisconsin North Woods. As the school year ended in ’46 they invited me along. I realize now what a good deal it was for the little family-- built in baby sitter and all that. Nevertheless this was a treat and a new experience for me. ‘Up North’ as Wisconsin folks say is far north where the landscape is all pines and many small lakes abounding with cottages owned and rentals for summer vacations. This is a delightful memory. One evening we attended a movie, just Mo and me. My hunch is they wanted to reward me with an activity without little children. I do not recall the film only that I encountered a first experience. On our drive back to the cottage Mo asked me how I enjoyed the film. I expressed a lot of joy-- oh, it was so beautiful. Mo shared that yes it was emotional, a tear jerker perhaps, but beyond that it was shallow, had no depth, saccharine, was not in any way great. I had my first adult critique of a movie and would go on in the future to pay more attention to a story’s substance. Would include Soap Opera's, of course. Thank you, Mo. After this movie I thought I began to intuit some uneasiness with Mavis. I sensed she would tell her hubby he was paying me too much attention. At the close of the vacation they drove me to my home in Hebron, met my mother, dad and family. Another time I saw them afterwards was a night I stayed over after a Marquette Mixer when my date dropped me off at their home. We'd had early curfews in the dorm. I'd be invited to dinner at times. 
When the Sophomore year commenced I would become a resident student.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


My dad thought both Elayne and my time was valuable to 'the club',  so advised our time better spent if we remained home rather than find jobs in town. Of course, he was right. Figuring the time it took to drive to and from Lake Geneva or Woodstock plus fuel and car maintenance only to bring home pittance wages. Monetary value not found. We were sometimes restless wanting to earn our own, like some cash in our hands. Whereas this work for the family was investment for a future. 
This is the building where I worked

There was a time this summer of ‘45 when I did get a job at a restaurant on a corner, Main and Broad, in Lake Geneva. It was crazy work on weekends when the town swelled with Chicagoans. They weren’t campers. They had to eat somewhere so the restaurants did remarkable business. I noticed many of the young men and women vacationing came from south side of Chicago, Longwood area. These would be the same strata of people I'd soon be meeting in college. After a couple of weekends of this frantic serving up of food and mixing malteds, pie ala mode and dad’s discouraging words, I quit. 

Mother’s friend, Dorothy Russell, lived with her sister, Geraldine, and their mother in a bungalow in Milwaukee. Geraldine had happily attended a private boarding high school, St. Mary's of Prairie de Chien, WI. when she was a teenager.
Mount Mary College

Geraldine told mother these same nuns now ran a college in Milwaukee, Mount Mary, a girl’s [women’s] college. It had a lovely campus and it would be a perfect place for MaryKay to receive her college education. Marquette University wasn’t even considered. I had not any motivation to go anywhere else so I was soon enrolled for the fall semester. 

Another plan which seemed to fall into place was my Auntie Gladys had returned from Pipestone to live in the Morris family’s upstairs flat on Highland Avenue. Her husband, Joe, a Captain in the military, would soon be discharged, and she didn’t want to continue to follow him around. Auntie had  one daughter, my cousin Judy, who would be attending Gesu grade school along with our cousin, Mary Morris, one of the Morris cousins now living downstairs since grandmother’s demise. I could have my old bedroom back. Plan sounded good.  I purchased a used desk and bed, and I painted a dresser light blue. One of the room's doors opened into the bathroom. I would have mealtimes with Auntie and cousin and visits with Auntie Alice, Uncle Howie, Alice, Barbara, Doug and Karen. Additionally you will recall from earlier bloggs that Marquette University was just a few blocks down the street.  Elayne was living in A House, just a couple blocks down 12th street, in her Sophomore year at Marquette in the School of Journalism.  A House was an apartment building owned by the University  made into a dorm  for Women students. Elayne was so happy and had already lived a year here. It was grand to see her finally have close friends and a nice roommate from northern  WI.
First day of college, having not as yet worked out our meals plan, for breakfast I purchased a bowl of cereal around the corner at Wimpy’s. This set me off to a bad start indeed. The cereal was rice Krispies, snap, crackle, pop, but somehow it came loaded with sugar. Why didn't I complain? 

My itinerary: I caught   the 12th Street streetcar north to North Avenue.
Trolley Bus electricity in lines overhead, no street tracks

Here I would catch a trolley bus to 60th, then the 60th bus to Center. At Center the city made available 2 charter busses mornings and again in the evenings to deliver Mount Mary’s groups of day students right to the college door. Otherwise one would take a Center Street bus to 92nd and walk in, probably close to a mile. College was considered 'way out there' and it was. The college provided  a lounge called the DayHop room, eat lunch, nap, study, visit. Total enrollment- 400 young women. I would spend many hours riding bus and streetcars. I often rode them as recreation, hopping on one and riding to the end of its route and return to my boarding point. 
A trolleybus  is an electric bus that draws its electricity from overhead wires (generally suspended from roadside posts) using spring-loaded trolley poles. Two wires and poles are required to complete the electrical circuit.
Green grass leads to Menomonee River Drive

 Busses arrive at the college from the city side.
School Sisters of Notre Dame were just as nice as they look here

Example of a 'Pony' Latin on left- English on right

I soon learned I could get help in my Latin class with Sr. Dorthea if I purchased a ’pony’. This had all the English translations. And I’d have help to translate the lines in class. But I didn’t, really. I would memorize the day’s lesson. I had a terrific memory. I did this with history reading assignments in high school as well. Passing this class seemed like a humungous obstacle to my continuing education. Got me a ‘B’ grade. I was happy to leave it all behind me. 

My sister had a Saturday job at Schuster’s department store, corner of 12th and Vliet in the deli. She was hardly recognizable  to me wearing her required hair net which flattened her profile. She has lots of hair like me, only jet black and wavy. I followed her example and got a job at Woolworth’s 5 and 10 cent store on the same Vliet Street, both a few blocks from Highland Avenue. Many were times past Mother stopped in at a Woolworth’s for  a hot cup of coffee, days when out shopping to renew her energy. The stores were in every town. Times she would say, "Now that's a good cup of coffee." Other times it wasn't. I drank coffee only one time in my entire life. Of course, this was back in the days before Tullybrackey. And as I see only 1 gentleman on the counter stools pictured below I realize they've not all returned from the wars-- the song- 'They're either too old or too young. They're either to gray or too grassy green. What's good is in the army. What's left will never harm me. They're either too old or too young. So darling you'll never get stung. Tomorrow I'll go hiking with that Eagle Scout unless I get a call from grandpa for a snappy game of chess.' --Rosemary Clooney
Woolworth's 5 and 10  Lunch Counter    I worked at the cosmetic counter.

What is it like to leave home for an extended period of time for the first time? I breezed through on the excitement the 1st few weeks brought. After 3 weeks in I was so blue, so down, wondering how the world about me could ever make any sense to me again, like a zombie going through routine motions, outside looking in, ugh! Only responsibilities moved me forward.  I experienced homesickness big time. Was difficult to carry on. This was a loss of what once was, a threshold to the new, and no turning back. I struggled through this milieu for many hours, for days, only eventually laying the feeling to rest and moving on. College helped, work helped, extended family helped, God helped. 

A conflict ensued with my Auntie. Seems she was so lonely, had envisioned in my staying with her  I would spend a great deal more time keeping her company. I did for mealtime and cleaning up. Most other time I was traveling to and from school, at school, in my room studying, or at work. Her feelings were always right out in plain sight and before the semester was out had become a heavy, heavy obstacle for me. I am that raggedy ann type pleaser. How do I do this? I simply must have lots of study time. She couldn’t seem to understand. Mother, always the listener, heard me conflicted. She visited a few times hoping to iron out conflict. Line comes to me here- 'Get a life.' Would have helped. Didn't work. We knew we would need to make other plans for a new semester and Uncle Joe would soon return. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happened in High School

My brother, Billy, didn’t need to work his way into High School society as he had enrolled with his classmates from Hebron Grade and attended some grades with them. As he entered the adolescent years he began to have some physical problems here and there. He had at least one operation on his right foot/leg. The operation was scheduled to take place at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago. 
Univ. of IL Med Center, Chicago

An appointment for hospital surgery was scheduled. Bill was manager of the Green Giants team which gave him lots of press. And his classmates were extremely attentive to him, girls and boys.

I remember afternoons after school like this time of year, when Elayne was at Marquette, Bill was in hospital in Chgo, so we were only ones there to take care of chickens, calves,  and the 3 cows, some sheep in the back of that cold NW corner of barn etc. Doing chores for the onset of night, before Dad got home.  For me I guess, a kind of idyllic/pastoral environ though I would never then have known it for that - just simply was living it as youngsters do without any rational realizations of a unique time perhaps never to return quite as such. Love, Jim
 There was a day of visitation following his operation when I accompanied mother on the commuter train into Chicago for the hospital visit. What I recall most was his roommate who kept flirting with me from the other bed. He was from the town of Salmon, IL and continued his flirtation through the mail when he returned home. I cared about his problem but I wasn’t interested in pursuing any long distance relationship though it was nice he cared and flattering, too. When Bill returned home from the hospital he was met overwhelmingly with a flood of visitors and gifts to wish him well and quick recovery. He was in like Flynn.

Around this time Bill passed his drivers test and so licensed. He was very, very popular. I suspect he could have been out every school night had he not other responsibilities. As it was he went with the team to all the games away and was present for home games as well.
I had one constant classmate who wanted to be a friend., Dorothy Dungan. Irish for sure.  She wasn’t part of the clique. When she turned 16 and had her drivers license she would occasionally call me up and arrange a theater visit. Fact is she called a lot. She was so available without chores or brothers or sisters. She was a Catholic, too. She lived with her mother in a small white house with green shutters on a nice farm at the edge of town, in town.
I loved visiting on her swing

Previously she had lived in Chicago as I. Her father was part of a gang like mafia, a gangster,  who had been shot and killed. The two felt quite safe and untroubled on the farm and had an excellent manager. Her claim to Catholicity puzzled me for she attended Mass at Easter times and rarely any other Sunday. Without doubt from her point of view she was Catholic. 
Words from songs those years-- there were so many- Oh I’m dreaming tonight of my Blue Eyes and I wonder if he thinks of me. While the moon up above-------  OR
There’ll be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover tomorrow when the world is free. OR
Moonlight Becomes You. It goes with your hair. You certainly know the right things to wear.  OR  at the close of every dance- Goodnight Sweetheart we will meet tomorrow.Goodnight sweetheart tears will vanish sorrow-
Jean and June Vander Veen were twin classmates. This Hebron community had known them all their lives. They lived on a nice farm just up the road behind the high school, a very short walk,  with their mother and dad. In their senior year their father hung himself. The townspeople couldn’t understand why. They had Vander Veen relatives on the road to Alden.
We had a new classmate in our Junior year. Leon O’Brien moved into town with his mother and dad. His dad had employment with Standard Oil. Before Leon finished high school his father committed suicide. He was not so well known in town. Leon would pal around at times with Bruce. 
Now there was another event we must have before the close of our high school years. This would be our Senior Class Play-  ‘Lexie Grows Up’   I was given the lead of Lexie and Leon the male lead. The plot followed me as I grew from a small child with a child’s voice through to an all grown up teenager. I dressed and spoke lines as a child. For the little girl scenes I wore my pink Shirley Temple dress, which I have even today. Eventually normal speech. The play ended on a high note with Leon kissing me. This was an activity everyone teased about all through the practices. The kiss didn't happen until the night the show went on. Bruce played Matt and in a letter sent to him later I say, "You made such a nice little fellow riding around on your tricycle." Of course, as always, the entire town turned up. The play and its popularity netted me dates with some out-of-high-school guys, Keith Johnson and the other, George Simes. These were nice dates with dinner at nice places and outdoor summer theater.So these were some fun dates to be enjoyed through the summer of '45. Nice guys but they found out I was drooling over Bruce. I finally got George to give up. Gosh he was in such a hurry to marry and settle down. I told him about a very nice girl in my brother Bill’s class, Ruth Judson.  He asked her out, liked her, in the future married her. She was sister of the Green Giants star player, Howie. Only time I ever played cupid.

Then there was brother Bill’s first attack of epilepsy. Seems it was the summer after I graduated from high school. I know I was home and experienced it. It was so scary. This is how Jim described it recently to cousin Tom:
Actually having been brother Bill's bunk mate all those years, his first seizure was on a somewhat hot summer nite, about 1am, when he was about 16.  I, being the younger was in the upper bunk, when I was awakened by the trembling of the bunk.  I had never heard of a seizure (epilepsy) of any sort, and was thrown into total confusion and dismay upon turning on the lites and calling out to Mom and Dad in the next bedroom.  Witnessing his violent shaking and facial contortion - it was simply shocking - I shan't soon forget the experience - I was only 9 or 10.  His diagnosis came several days later, followed by a prescription which worked for several years, until it too had to be strengthened....  There was the always present danger of his swallowing his tongue, which of course we didn't know when he had his first.  After that we were always ready to insert a tongue depressor as  asap.  Needless to say, it's not a pleasant experience to see a human in the throes of such an uncontrollable event! Was a shocking experience for Elayne and me as well.

There is one more highlight I want to share in '45. A tradition this tiny town had was when the High School Seniors graduate they will visit Washington D.C. as a final trip together. The past few graduate years the tradition was cancelled  due to our U.S. being at war with Germany and Japan. Our class and sponsors chose a smaller trip. We'd have a boat cruise to Macinaw Island at the tip of Lake Michigan. This would be an experience no one in our class has  had. 

We pulled out from Navy Pier. We were very excited to have such an experience and we were joined on the cruise by many more boys and girls mainly from the Chicago high schools. Wasn’t long at all before I got sea sick. I wonder why we were not better prepared. This was an awful introduction to what I hoped would be a delightful esperience. I need not describe to you today what a cruise is like. You have had yours. On this trip we had it all. Music, dancing, food, entertainment, service. Kids played boogie-woogie on the piano and other talented performances.
Macinac Island-  pronounced Macinaw

We got off ship on the island destination, scampering about and then returning for the voyage back to Chicago. Always interesting to me  how Bruce is captivated by talent and by artistic skill. This worries me here as well as in the past for there are some talented kids aboard and seems to me he is smitten with one and then another. There was absolutely nothing special about this voyage in the area of romance for me whereas he was making acquaintances now and future ones as well. Though I must admit even so this was an unforgettable experience. 

MaryKay Bergin 1945 High School Graduation- Very special white dress

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Hebron Grade School where Jimmy and Billy attend/will graduate from
This is the town Grade School. Perhaps Jim has some stories to insert here.

42-43 Hebron High School
We were introduced to things like a Pep Rally on a Friday afternoon before a Basketball game whether home or away. I suppose we had cheer leaders though I do not remember them so they were not important to me. I liked the students all coming together to back their team.                  "Hebron Loyalty"
                                                 Sung to "Univ of Illinois
                                                                Loyalty Song"                                                                    

                                    We're loyal to you Hebron High.
                                                We're ever true blue Hebron High,
                                                We'll best you to stand
                                                Against the best in the land,
                                                For we know you will stand Hebron High,

                                                Go crashing ahead Hebron
                                                Go thru that defense Hebron High,
                                                Our name is a fame protector
                                                On boys for we expect a
                                                Victory from you Hebron High!
Howie Judson

Of course, there were always the stars of the school. These would be members of the famed Green Giant Basketball team. Howie Judson went on to play at the University of Illinois; also the Chicago White Sox; Cincinnati Reds. He is the older brother of the Judson twins, Rob and Paul, who would lead Hebron to the State championship in 1952, when my brother Jim was on the team. Howie was older than me, 2 or 3 years older. More on Green Giants in a later blog.

Seems like at least once a year we could work it out so that we had permission to take the Dodge into town to attend a home basketball game. It might begin snowing early in the day and I’d pray it would cease. On these days it did not. Snow fell all day and with the wind blowing snow was piled in drifts always beneath the hill our side of the neighboring Swanson farm. [Aging and finally retiring a young family bought the Swanson farm  and  a sad story of a young boy playing with fire in the barn and losing his life and the building.]
Pray the snow plow comes through

We would have chains on the tires and shovels in hand. We would try our best. Snow plows wouldn’t be down our road for a while, maybe until morning. But we could hope and pray.Eventually, we must give up and sadly return home. Dad would be helping us rather begrudgingly for he was sure there were better ways to use our time and energy. Always the worry if we did get through how would we get home. 

Perhaps there were other ways to enjoy the blizzard

Perhaps there were other ways to enjoy the blizzard

I discovered very gradually in Geometry Class something was wrong with my eyes. I noticed other students could read and give directions for what was on the blackboard. I had my eyes tested, discovered I was nearsighted and prescribed a pair of glasses for seeing afar. Our dad encouraged us to keep our eyes strong and not wear them constantly. So the degree of myopia wasn't severe. I needed prescription glasses until a few years ago I discovered I could read far, no problem driving a car, seeing a movie screen. However, now I was increasingly requiring reading glasses. Reversal is happening. There were times in Geometry when Bruce figured out a theorem even when Mr. Tigard puzzled. I witnessed how quick, attentive, bright he was. 
We discovered a room on the first floor much like a pantry or closet. Foods from the Surplus Foods Program for the community were stored in this closet. Students could help themselves and take stuff to their homes. I recall peanut butter being a hot item. And I think there were dried dates as well. Potatoes. There was a lot of intimacy in so small a school with something like 58 total enrollment. Other years I had always had that many in one classroom. About once monthly when we were arriving for our English Class one or another would suggest a class party. We would quickly take a yes vote and decide what we would do that very night. We had 2 choices a movie or the Delevan Roller Rink. The theater of choice was in Lake Geneva and if the film was unacceptable we would all go skating. Now we needed a ride. ”Bruce, call your mother”, would unanimously follow. He’d call. She would agree to be our driver, arrange a time to meet and off we’d go for a fun evening. I preferred the roller rink with the great organ music playing as we circled round and round and round on our rented shoes skates.I do believe the roller rink is still operating.  Was the ticket only $.25?
Coin operated music machine

If the choice were a movie there would be sodas after the show sitting on counter stools or in a booth in the small adjacent shop. Places like this always had jukeboxes to add some music. Afterwards we’d have a parent meet us back in Hebron. One time I stayed overnight with Dorothy Bakkom, the implement dealer’s daughter. She loved horses and would live on a ranch in Wyoming for many years following graduation.

Stewart chevy was gray- later painted a deep blue

We were too young to drive. On my first date Bruce and his mother arranged for an outing with a foursome, his mom and my mom and me and him. Beth Stewart would chaperone as Bruce drove the Chevy to the theater in Walworth, WI. They had chosen the movie ‘Stormy Weather’ w/Lena Horne. 
My mother got along quite well with Beth. As we arrived at the ticket booth Bruce was moving up so slowly, dwadling, to purchase the tickets that my mother felt  awkward  and ended up buying our theater tickets. This did not leave a good impression with my mother. Manners were important and this a first impression. Bruce, first time, reached for and held my hand through the movie, bravely put his arm around me for a while. When we arrived at my house both moms remained talking in the car  while Bruce walked me to the front door. We stepped inside and being clearly seen through our window we kissed. For a few days following I worried some,  though not too much, that might be how girls got pregnant. [My mother had shared information with me one afternoon when we walked to and sat alongside the Spring about ‘birds and bees’. I didn’t think kissing was brought up.] I never, ever, ever felt such a thrill before in my whole life. I was smitten.
Many rules on how to behave properly

He claims today that I never let him know I felt so ‘smitten’. You have no idea how many Emily Post manners we must comply with in the forties. Couldn't telephone a boyfriend. Be coy. Good girl play hard to get. No elbows on table. Don't reach, please pass. Girls who did not behave properly, conform,  were hussies or easy. One's behavior reflected on the family.

Come Springtime [was it Junior year] the school held a Spring Dance. Whenever anything is held at this high school the entire town is welcome not just students. Bruce invited me as a date for the dance. All day long that Saturday I was so excited. I wore a white, pleated sharkskin skirt, absolutely the stylish thing, and my yellow sweater buttoned down the back, also height of fashion and my saddle shoes, bobby socks.

My date arrived with a carnation corsage and pinned it to my sweater. I was in heaven. At the dance I met his sisters, Elsie and Charlotte and his brothers-in-law Maurie and Art.  I saw so clearly those defining Stewart eyes. The aroma of carnations has always been special to me.

One of those Class Trips we took as a class was into Chicago as a group. I cannot recall what for. I do recall it was an overnight trip. I recently discovered the hotel itself was special.
 Morrison Hotel was the first building outside of New York City to have more than 40 floors
In 1927, the hotel's signature forty-six story tower was completed, giving the Morrison a total of 2,500 guest rooms and the right to claim itself the "World's Tallest Hotel." The tower and its flagpole reached 637 feet into the air and offered guests not only cool breezes but also incomparable views of the lake and skyline. When the hotel's tower opened, it ranked as one of the tallest buildings in Chicago. The hotel was demolished in 1965 to make room for  Chase Tower.
We had reservations at the Morrison Hotel. Miss Herlon and the Tigard family chaperoned for us. I don’t think I had ever stayed in a hotel. So imagine how exciting and to be with my age group. I recall an elaborate, great  mezzanine surrounding and overlooking the lobby and the broad and long carpeted hallways to the rooms, the sound the doors made when we opened and closed them and us girls sneaking to the boys room and the boys sneaking to ours. Little did I know or recall. Ah! the beauty of the view, of course!

I maintained my ‘puppy love’ but Bruce seemed to look all around and elsewhere. Even Miss Tupper knew and labeled my love struck self 'puppy love. Occasionally we would meet in study hall perhaps. Now what does that mean? We met most every class and every day unless one or the other absent. Our senior year, last period we had study hall with just Bruce, Leon, Ruth [Bruce' cousin] and me. I sure enjoyed those moments together. Study then-- nah not at all. 
When Elayne turned 16 she would drive us to school, relieving mother of this chore. There was a freshman girl, Ruthie Marzahl, just a little girl living up the road from us. Arrangements were made to drive her to school along with us. I had nothing against Ruthie. 
Came time for the Junior Prom though and Bruce asked Ruthie Marzahl as his date. She was a Freshman and we Seniors. I was truly insulted. I wanted to attend the dance so I came up with a plan. I rode in on the Northwestern that Saturday  morning using my daddy's ticket. I called the Collin’s home and asked my cousin Tom if he would come home with me. Next step I went to their home on Lexington Ave. and afterwards we together met the commuter train back out that evening. He would be my date for the dance. Tom, being my age, almost, and good looking, I thought to give these townsfolk something to think about. Tom and all family agreed. He dressed up nice.

Gown I made for Marquette Academy Prom - Dick Russell  not cousin Tom
   Picture taken at Russell bungalow home in Milwaukee- Akin to son Robb and Nancy Stewart Craftsman home

Returning home I donned a formal I had made for another prom I attended in Milwaukee with Dick Russell. Dick is my age, son of my mothers’ friend, Dorothy. We had attended the Marquette Academy’s prom with a group of his friends. I had not told anyone, not a soul  at school about this night's arrangement. They didn’t and Bruce didn’t know Tom was my cousin. I think we pulled off the ‘date with this guy from Chicago’ quite well. 

Tom looked Bruce over throughout the evening and assured me I wasn’t missing out on a thing.  

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hebron Meets Bergin Family 5/42

Spring of school year ‘41-’42 the family as the previous year retreated to the farm for the month of May, Elayne and I being dismissed from Senn High School and Jimmy and Billy from Our Lady of Lourdes. Jimmy and Billy finished the year at Burgett one room country school.
This time the move was permanent. It was during the month of May Elayne and I first visit the High School in the village of Hebron. We will finish out out my Freshman and her Sophomore  years here at Hebron High. It was a replay of my previous first day of school experiences. First day or two one is extremely popular. Boys and girls cluster about, wanting to hear one talk, introduce oneself, year in school, where one lives and all of that, look one over up and down and in and out. Similar to putting a new heifer in the cow yard. Wow look at the friends I have made. After curiosity and gossip is shared one is dropped, left out and the rest of the time it is up to me to wiggle my way into this society with its defining boundaries. 
Bruce Stewart 14 years old

One memory I do need to share from those first days took place in the school's broad hallway. I was dawdling with some of these  ‘friends’ before the windows on the first flight of stairs during lunch hour. There is this boy down on first floor, going I don’t know where, not up the staircase, yet still showing interest in me, the new student, and he's glancing my way.  Obviously I am aware  I have some interest in this kid who's looking up at me. This kid was destined to both upset me big time and thrill me through the next three years and at least one year beyond Hebron High School. He’s not a town kid. He’s a country kid. Name is Bruce Stewart, my age, my height 5' 4 1/2 ", and in my class along with 11 others. We are 14 years old.
Classes are so small. We will share together the same teachers, same study periods, same classmates, even chorus as the school's 2 Bruces always signed up for chorus. Since it is Springtime girls PE periods are way out in corner of the field near the highway where the backstop stands and bases are marked for our girl’s gym period. And I love playing baseball, especially pitching softball. Time and again I have this feeling someone is watching me or maybe all of us from out the school windows or perhaps hoping we are watched. And we PLAY BALL. I  am a lefty who bats right handed.
I meet our new teachers- Miss Tupper, Latin and History, Miss Herlon English, Mr. Tigard, Algebra and General Science also Superintendent. Mr. Higdon who teaches shorthand and typing and is principal. There is that music room where I join chorus and also will take up cello for a time. We eat our lunch in the Home Ec room, Home Ec not being in the school's curriculum, so space is not being used as a classroom. We will have hot soup sometimes by heating a pan of water and adding a dry mix.

1940s  somewhat similar to Gym in 2010

Basketball seems to have priority at this small high school. There is a nice gymnasium with ample seating for the townsfolk who follow the games religiously. Soon we will realize in this small town even after folks graduate they never quite leave their high school. I will use the gym for girl’s basketball games- never interscholastic nor even intrascholastics- just for great fun. Also, there is a stage where I will find it’s used for drama productions. The school year soon ends. Elayne and I have a good idea of what to look forward to in the years ahead of us before our graduation, she in 1944 and me in 1945.

Immediately following last day of school there’s a Memorial Day celebration at the American Legion Hall which Elayne and I ride into town on our bicycles to investigate, 2 miles. Reminds me about how those times my sister would be so proud of us being a mess, dressed in overalls, work gloves, old shoes, of being so ‘dirty’ from our work assignments and then we could get cleaned up afterwards so not a soul would recognize us as these same young women. There are ‘Free Shows’ Saturday nights in the Hebron Town Hall. Don’t believe we ever sat through one. Always knew they were there in town. Seldom participated. Saturday night was the night all the farmers came to town-- to gather, for the show, for groceries, for gossip. Daddy discouraged us. Once during the summer there would be a carnival in the grade school yard.
Most everything a family had need of could be found in the little town of Hebron. I recall a tiny filling station with one pump. There were 2 grocery stores, one a chain called Royal Blue run by the 2 Ruehlman brothers, another called Lopeman’s the family owners surname, as was Okeson Hardware,  Schaeffer’s Dry Goods, Merry’s Drug, a family restaurant, Borden Milk Plant, Lumber Yard, Joe, the Barber, 3 churches, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, a cemetery, a Doctor Doc Bailey, a Dentist Dr. Mead.
Bakkom's International Harvestor Co.

Hawley's John Deere Implement Co.

There was a great deal of competition in this town beyond basketball games. This was among farmers and even family members who chose one implement over the other much like Ford/Chevy controversy.  Bakkom’s International Harvester and Hawley's John Deere.  The town in the 40s had a population of 650, all caucasian.

To shop meant to ask the grocer for any items we wanted from our grocery list. He would find them on the shelves behind the counter and place them one by one before us on the counter. Then he would tally them up on his cash register, weighing out what needed weighing and put the items in a bag or box. Very slow by todays standards. Usually required waiting in line. Grocer and shopper came to know each other. We never bought ground beef. We always asked at the butcher counter for chuck beef ground and await it put through the meat grinder. My dad wanted to be sure what was in the ground meat. And someone stocked the Royal Blue with fresh, homemade bread. They sold it in these 16” loaves a lot like french bread though soft crust, loaves baked alongside each other on a flat baking pan so clumps of dough clung together. Waiting for mother after school, once the semester began with that fresh bread smell in our car I would often tear off pieces from the side where the loaves clung together while baking. Yum! Patience was never my virtue. The proprietors of the dry goods, drug store, hardware operated same as the grocery. We'd have milk and graham crackers on return home.
Dr. Mead was my savior. Mother and dad saw to it that our teeth were always taken care of. In Milwaukee it was at Marquette Dental School, in Chicago we’d have our appointments with Dr. Schoen, from Marquette. She took us for our appointments in Hebron to Dr. Mead. This must have been the year we bought the farm. His office was up a stairway above the grocery store. When he saw that tooth I broke on that one fateful school holiday he assured my mother he could fix me ‘good as new’. Which he did by removing my tooth which Dr. Schoen had capped in ugly silver and replacing it with a false nice pearly white pin tooth, a complete match with my other front tooth. My shame was ended forever. I wouldn’t need to hide and I could smile broadly once again. Sometimes I heard derogatory remarks about Mead. I respected him.

Brother adds: "Keep up the good account - it's just thrilling to relive all that adventure/intrigue. How about Mother's frequent trips with the old Dodge, breaking down bit by bit (fenders etc.) to Royal Blue; Ernie Kraft's Feed store for those patterned feed sacks [women made family clothing from these sacks]of chicken feed supplement. They just threw them on the front fenders for transport to the farm."