Saturday, May 28, 2011

Rockford to Biloxi 850 Miles

March 25- DAY 1-  Hebron, IL to Rockford, IL  35 miles
The Faust Hotel was grand, service fine and friendly. After settling into our room we took time to consummate our marriage, right then before day's end.  Know what that means. We spoke our vows publicly before family and friends. The priest pronounced us husband and wife. Since it is man and woman who do the marrying we had yet to finish the contract. Thus we did so, alas.  Last day of my menstrual period was this very wedding day. Afterwards we went downstairs to the dining room for dinner. “The dinner salads were so good”, is a notation I made. We were each, by this time, much too tired is all I have to say.  We put closure on an exciting, very special day and a new beginning for the two of us. 
DAY 2-
We awoke the next morning, went down to breakfast and enjoyed the most delicious Pecan Waffles and maple syrup the likes of which we have never, ever again experienced. We packed up.  As we passed the desk the staff told us they hadn’t recognized us as newlyweds. Had they known they would have given us ‘the Honeymoon Suite’. Seemed to a us a validation that as friends we looked and behaved as two people right for each other. Immediately we were off on the road. We had $100.00 cash to spend.
311 miles south from Rockford on highway 51 we stopped at the DX Station in Du Quoin, 52165 speedometer reading, for 8.2 gallons of DX + 1  1/4 quarts of oil.  Total $4.14.
Growing in the tall grass on the roadside

The roadsides were strewn with fresh , bright yellow daffodils  in amongst the green grass. Spring had arrived in the south. Union City, Tennessee, 471 miles from Rockford we stopped for late lunch. First time we truly knew we were south for the people spoke with very southern drawls. 

Guys hanging out together
Now I want to share with you. Ever since I was 13, 14 years old whenever, wherever I walked, particularly when alone, always I would eventually meet up with a group of guys hanging out together. They would whistle at me as I passed and exclaim, “Hubba hubba”. This is one of those areas I was so naive in. I really hadn’t a clue the sexuality involved here. I thought they liked my looks, and my nice friendly smile in response to their greeting. How innocent! As I walked from car to lunchroom this day a group outside did the same as usual, “Hubba, hubba". I want to share this because this was the very last time I recall my eliciting, “Hubba, hubba”. Only explanation I have is I turned off something maidenish as I assumed a ‘taken, ‘married’, ‘not available’ posture. Years later we'd have words for this, ' body language'. I am a married woman. I belong to another.

I kid you not. Everywhere we stopped whether gas station, restaurant, grocery, tourist court, wherever, 'Abba Dabba' Was playing on the Juke Box. I'll bet it is No. 1 on this Saturday night's Hit Parade.

Research tells me we are 688 miles from Rockford in Duck Hill Mississippi on highway 51. Just south of Duck Hill is Winona where we spent the night in cabin like accommodations at the Hiawatha Tourist Court. We pulled in at 10PM and found a vacancy. I recall that I noted in bed the next morning as we awoke together that Bruce had a lot of hair on his chest. Dad, Bill, Jim why hadn’t I noticed yours? This is becoming altogether real.
DAY 3 and 4
A 'swank' motel

Completed our 815th mile as we drove into SUN-n-SAND HOTEL COURT, Biloxi, Mississippi. This was near to Keesler Air Force Base. There were many sites Bruce wanted to share with me, including the Gulf of Mexico. Biloxi sits on its shores. This motel was very modern, ‘swank’ we would say. Put a luxurious touch to our destination, this our holiday together. 
We ate dinner this evening at a restaurant on the seashore Colonial Cafe Seawall Patio Midway between Biloxi and Gulfport.
Broiled Fresh Gulf Shrimp, seasoned to a gourmet’s taste, Cocktail Sauce, Saltines 
All you can eat for $1.00. Milk .10     Tea .10    Coffee .05   Malted Milk .35     Pie  .20
It was so-o-o good!
Breakfast  ex. Juice, Southern Hot Cakes, with ham, bacon or sausage .75
I have a receipt from ECHOLS AUTO PARTS 1317 28th Ave. Gulfport MS where we bought a switch $2.20 + .05 tax, 13 miles west of Biloxi. I remember we ate a Bar-B- Q pork sandwich while we waited for parts. Speedometer reads we’ve traveled 948 miles from Rockford.
Next day we covered 374 miles north from Gulfport and stayed overnight in a brand new motel in West Memphis, Arkansas. We ate dinner this night and breakfast in town at ‘The Coffee Cup’.  Years later we would have a daughter, Joan, who would certainly be asking, 'Are we there yet?' or another might inquire, 'Are we having fun yet?' We certainly are!
DAY 6 
Traveled to Springfield IL and spent the night with sister Cese, Bud, Patsy and Bill, the Whitneys. 
Sometime after breakfast and farewells we drove home. Crossed over the threshold of the Stewart farmhouse. Home. Bruce had $5.00 left in his pocket. The lovely oak tree leaves all about the property were just beginning to burst from their buds. 
Apple trees in the orchard just beginning to bloom

Trees out in the apple orchard were coming into blossom. Spring is arriving and soon the bush beneath our bedroom window will be showing us it's yellow roses. 
Monday morning  Bruce was up at 4:30 AM. I hear him stirring the furnace coals in the basement and head outdoors.Minutes pass and next I can hear what would become so familiar, the putt-putt-putt as he heads out into the field on his John Deere tractor to bring in the cattle. I rise, breakfast and get out on the highway to resume the 1st day of the week teaching my classes in Darien, WI. My students have been instructed to call me Mrs. Stewart. I believe Larry, my boss, enjoyed giving out these instructions for me. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wedding 3-26-51

Bruce had pondered for quite a time who would be his Best Man. He didn’t choose a brother or a cousin or friend. He chose the Hebron Presbyterian Church’s young Minster, Reverend Ted Walworth, about our age. The family knew this young man well, having spent considerable time with him, including sharing meals together. This was OK with Fr. Miller. I have a hunch for us almost anything would go for Bruce was his convert, ta-dah. Bruce intention was a gesture towards his mother who was a loyal servant in the family’s Presbyterian faith. Ted’s being present provided for a nice Stewart family participation in our celebration. Ted was young, considerate, and open enough to accept our invitation. I would like to reach him in this year 2011. I would be disappointed if he were not one of the forward minds within his sect reaching out with other faith paths to an ‘emerging Church’. You need to know, however, this was a shocker for the Catholic Church to be so fraternizing. Impossible! Catholics weren't allowed to attend Protestant weddings, to visit their churches, [they could come to ours, no Eucharist], to marry a Protestant in Church [was my problem wasn't it?], to take swimming lessons at the YWCA. We had our own schools and we had a feeling as kids we were better than other kids [we were going to heaven when we died]. The Lutheran school kids which visited the public school where I taught in Milwaukee for released time 'cooking class' were just as stuck up as we. [They were told they were the ones going to heaven].
Ted Walworth, Madeline Sue, Bruce, MaryKay, Elayne

One disappointment for me was to not have our small ring bearer, Bill. Someone in the Whitney family was seriously under the weather. Bud, Francese, Patsy and Bill  could not make the trip upstate from Springfield to be present the day of our wedding. I don't recall that we had any rehearsal.
Easter Monday, 1951, is the calmest day in my life. I awoke this morning. I dressed myself as the bride. No breakfast to prepare or to consume as we are each fasting that we might receive the Eucharist. Dad drove me over to the church. Maybe we are not all in the car as I’m remembering feeling I had spent some special time with my father. This is a cold March day,  fairly bright. Flecks of snow are flying through the air. It’s a first wedding amongst the cousins. Many of them have come to my wedding. I see them in the photographer Montgomery's photos or see their names on the wedding gift cards. They being younger this may be a first wedding ever attended. It is my first wedding I attended.  My cousin Alice Morris married about this time, also. She is almost three years younger than I. 

Photographer arrives early and leads us down to the reception hall for formal posed pictures. He does this before the decorating is complete. He must have planned on going home after the wedding. We have no breakfast pictures nor later reception pictures. The receptacle on the wedding table has no roses in it. We chose yellow roses and gardenias wherever a bouquet is called for- mine, Elayne’s, Susie, boutonniere, on the altar, on the reception table. Candid photography as I said before was new to him. 

I don’t remember following any protocol other than the Mass itself, which is quite formal, the day being Easter Monday, a festive liturgy. Other than that our wedding was quite simple. Besides extended family surrounding me, the large Stewart clan and my own Bergin/Morris/Collins/Dobeus, there are neighbors from the community, my sister teachers from Darien, both the grade and high school faculty plus Mr. Cox, my Superintendent, his wife and son. Wedding protocol has certainly developed since these fifties, a new brand of Emily Post in future years as families became more affluent, I suppose. A great deal of money to be made. 

Seated left to right: Beth, Robert Stewart, Charlotte Eggert, my Mother

I don’t have a wedding veil covering my face as I arrive on dad’s arm at the altar. Father of the bride traditionally passes over his daughter's hand to a new man's keeping. There’s no special processional playing from the organ loft, though Molly would be playing some notes. Mother tended to most of that. I see from the photos there is a white rolled out carpet down the aisle. 
Ted is far left, Bruce, my Mother,MK, Brother Bill
I wrote in my scrapbook: "We were married Easter Monday. Our wedding Mass was a High Mass because of this day. The Gloria and Credo therefore were sung. Ordinarily at a Nuptial the dialog is verbal. We were thrilled beyond measure because of this exception. Our entire day seemed more holy because of the glorious start."
Elsie, Fred, MK, Bruce, ?, Elayne, Alice

Someone other than myself could best describe the breakfast at the Gargoyle, located on a main street in Lake Geneva immediately following the wedding nuptial. Family needed to carpool to it's location. What I recall is it being such a happy extended family time together, one of the few times now since our grandparents died. I remember folks breaking out into song as is so usual in this family. Especially, we sing the familiar Irish ballads. Even Jim sings solo. He finds this an opportunity to use his nice voice. Uncle Jim would have sung as well. Such a merry meal. This was a classy, intimate family breakfast. We were waited on by  the Gargoyle's highly professional staff.  And here is where we initially latched on to ‘Aabba Dabba Honeymoon' sung so joyfully. When we returned to the church basement for our reception it seems most of the other wedding guests had managed to be present and our celebration continued. There was music and dancing and cutting of the cake. 

At 3 P.M. Bruce and I left the hall, retreating to the rectory. Father had invited us to use an upstairs bedroom in the rectory afterwards to change out of wedding garments. Bruce helped me unzip  out of my long, ice blue satin gown. I felt so young, so his, so special, so beautiful, standing before him now in my white, lacy petticoat before donning my travel clothes. I felt like his bride, indeed, with the warm, intimate feelings swirling within me. [I spoke with him this afternoon about these memories.] Seems it wasn’t  that delightful for him. The responsibilities for the business, the formalities of marriage, kept popping up in his head and lay heavily upon him.  He felt relief now as we said goodbye to it all and went off alone, together, our own merry way in our blue '47 Chevrolet ['see the USA in your chevrolet'] family car as Mr. and Mrs. Bruce M. Stewart. I always did like the surname, Stewart.
We were two tired people. Our plan was to drive to Rockford, IL and stay the night at the Faust Hotel downtown, a distance of approximately 35 miles. And so we did. Never occurred to us to make reservations. We carried our luggage in and registered at the desk. We were given R. 723. The journey now commenced to spend at least the next 60 some years as husband and wife, set up home in various places at various times and raise our family. As my parents talked of 5 Acres and Independence we often shared reference to Cheaper by the Dozen. Is there some connection herein? Some family scripting? Hmm!

Another  wonderful event happened March 26, 1951, the very day my family was enjoying my wedding celebration. Jim shares:
"Hoping in your blog you intend to mention that the day of victory over one Wilder Smith, [the banker] came on the exact date of your wedding - providence came forth with a most unusual visit from Einar Bakkom to our cow barn being attended by Bill Miller.  Never queried Bill about the details but, our not being present  [family away at my wedding] perhaps enabled Bakkom to take the time to decide there and then of an offer of $300. per cow.  That purchase price more than paid off the remaining mortgage. [I didn't know of this coincidence until Jim shared email, winter of 2011].
 As the baby of the family, I was to experience such a one day realization of what a vital role my unfolding youth was to have for my parents and siblings. Free at Last, Free at Last. Needless to say while you were on your honeymoon, we basked in the realization of our 1st real sense of financial security, with only relaxing strolls to the barn to tend to the remaining 25 or so younger stock, not requiring the twice daily mandatory care of 34 milking cows.  It was something commensurate I suppose to one who has won a mega dollar lottery." 

Way down in the Congo land sitting in a coconut tree,
there was a monkey and a chimp--and Lordy how she loved him.
Every night in the pale moonlight sitting in the coconut tree,
these love words she always said to he...

"Abba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba"
said the monkey to the chimp.
"Abba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba"
said the chimpee to the monk.
All night long they chattered away.
All day long they were happy and gay,
swinging and swaying in a honky, tonky way.

"Abba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba"
said the chimp, "I love but you."
Abba dabba dabba in monkey talk means
"Chimp, I love you too."
Then the ol' baboon, one night in June,
married them and very soon,
they sailed away on an abba dabba honeymoon.

                                                                                  Woodstock Daily Sentinel
                                                                                        Thursday, April 5, 1951

                                                                                  MRS. BRUCE STEWART 
                                                                            in her elegant satin wedding gown
                                                                           directly after the marriage ceremony 
                                                                           performed in St. Joseph's Church in 
                                                                           Richmond, March 26. Mrs. Stewart 
                                                                           is the former Mary Bergin, Hebron.
                                                                           [Montgomery Studio Photo]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More Wedding Preparations

Gran, Mrs. Beth Stewart, always seemed to like me. She was delighted to have me for a daughter and married to her son. When Bruce left the Air Force it was she who encouraged him to look me up.  She seemed so excited as she prepared this house to be our home. This was  the old farmhouse which was the home where Gran and Grandpa lived since they left the Stewart Homestead home and it is here they raised their 6 children. Though they now lived in the little ‘house on the hill’ this was home. They were filled with joy getting this house ready to be our home. 
1936 Stewart kitchen remodeled and published in Successful Farming Magazine

In 1936 this was an up to the minute, modern kitchen. Shown is Bruce's sister, Elsie, about 18 or 19 years old. There are many Jewel Tea ceramics on the counter. Gran, you see, decorated around the window, painting the decor to match. 
an ancient French lilac grew outside that kitchen window.

The old sink beneath the window was replaced with a double drainboard modern metal sink

She asked me what color I'd like the kitchen. 'Pink", I said, and pink I got. In a way it clashed with the linoleum flooring yet we made it work.

 This 2-story + basement home had a sunny room just a right turn up the back entry stairway, a bathroom, this kitchen referred to above, a dining room, living room and a downstairs master bedroom which was the room just beyond the stairway to the 2nd floor. There were 3 bedrooms upstairs and one tiny room  left of this stairway which we would call  nursery.  Their old maple bed remained in the master bedroom also having been used by their son, Fred and his wife, Cassie,  when recently living here. Now we would use it. 
Yellow rose outside bedroom window

Gran had the walls in the bedroom papered in a beautiful, huge, refreshing floral pattern, green and white with yellow roses. Her yellow rosebush would soon bloom just outside the bedroom window.

We had a kitchen table with drop leaves we painted blue and chairs to go with the table.

We were given the 1910 oak dining table with 6 chairs

Then there was that same round oak dining table we have even now with 6 oak chairs. There were other antique things about, like a heavy oak library table in the living room. My mother and dad gave us a nice mahogany lamp table. It wouldn’t  match right now. I think Jim has the table.  My parents also gave us a set of maple, cushioned den furniture. My plan was to replace them  soon and have these to furnish a den. I made blue slipcovers for the cushions, which now were green multi-striped, to better fit the decor. I ordered a large, 9 by 12 gray shag rug for the living room. We had 2 white bookcases either side of the windows and one beneath. Bruce had a membership with Book-of-the-Month-Club. There was an overstuffed recliner and footstool, blue plaid drapery..
I would continue my decorating later on. 
I added a Gorham Camellia bon-bon spoon and a fish fork to my set

The teachers from Darien High School and Grade School held a shower for us after a school day in the form of an evening pot luck meal at 6:30 P.M. Bruce couldn't make it. He was committed to his responsibilities at home.We played games. They had pitched in together for the gift, a bon-bon spoon and fish fork in my chosen Gorham Camellia sterling silver pattern. 

My THIRD SHOWER-  Invitation:

This: It will be fun to have you - add your sunshine to the shower - for Mary K. Bergin

Kind: Miscellaneous on 3/17/51 at 2:00 o’clock P.M.

The Place: Stewart Ellsworth’s

Hostesses: Erma Fellows [cousin Chuck’s wife] and Phebe May Ellsworth [Bruce' Aunt Dolly]

St. Patrick's Day- This was a very green, nice Irish theme carried through the party. Many of the Stewart clan showed up giving us some useful gifts for our future home.

I was given at Sweet Pea Corsage to wear and others wore sweet peas in their coiffures.
Shower Gift Cards I saved

Many evenings after we had returned from a family visit, a date, movie, we would sit out in the yard in the Kaiser and share together dreams of the future, comments on the day. We'd often sit there with arms about  each other, especially on moonlit nights enjoying each others company even until 2:30 the next morning. This was not wise. Bruce would only get a couple hours sleep before chores began. I refer to a popular song,  'Give Me Five Minutes More'. This how it was for us.
Writer(s): Cahn/Styne

Give me five minutes more, only five minutes more
Let me stay, let me stay in your arms

Here am I, begging for only five minutes more
Only five minutes more of your charms

All week long I dreamed about our Saturday date
Don't you know that Sunday morning you can sleep late  [Dairy farmers can't]

Give me five minutes more (Here am I begging for), only five minutes more
(Let me stay, let me stay)
Let me stay, let me stay (stay) in your arms

Sunday, May 22, 2011

1951 Decisions Made

Fred Stewart, Bruce's brother, along with his wife and children, Freddie, and Janie, had been living in the farmhouse on the RW Stewart Farm. Fred was operating the farm with his father's, RW's, assist. During this time the 'little house on the hill' was constructed for Beth's and Robert's new home. Tending the farm wasn't working well for Fred, his wife from CA wanting to return and he wanting to follow after. The Stewarts had a conversation concerning operation of the farm. The decision was made that Bruce would take on the Franelchar dairy farm and when married he and I would move into the old farmhouse. I was shook because my idea of me as a college graduate, with my 2 year old degree and almost 2 years teaching experience, was not to find myself living  a secluded life on a dairy farm. Must have been in late Fall, 1950, when this plan was decided and reported to me. I needed to get used to this idea. So, what could I say to this decision the family made. How could I object. I wasn't about to lose my love a second time. My parents, too, hesitatingly acquiesced to this when I shared with them. I have a hunch they talked over some previous obstacles which led them to a supportive position. In recent travels  they met up with a charismatic Scot priest with the name, Fr. Stewart. I witnessed them softening on the deal 'Irish always marry Irish'. From the years which had passed through their radar they had to admit the Stewart family was a wholesome family and even as an extended family a reputable family in the community. This was a large family of homesteaders who did well, keeping their land. They had to have at least an inkling suspicion that I had favored this young man for many years. What truly cinched their approval was his consent to become a Catholic. Oh my. How could they argue with God-- one more soul redeemed. I was of that opinion, too, wasn't I? [I have grown up, matured, in many areas of my life since 23 not the least of which is my inherited Catholic faith. I hold only miniscule fear residuals. I needed to learn God shows no preferences. Each, all are loved.I continue to love dearly the faith of my fathers and mothers. As an educated human being I choose to live as one who knows she is loved by God as God loves  all Creation. ] 
Newly erected Dairy Barn  Photo from book- STEWART HEATHER LOST
This is how this new young family would make a living. In a previous year, 1948,  hay had been stacked in the loft in the barn with too much moisture causing a combustible fire and the early Franelchar barn burnt totally to the ground on a summer evening in 1948. I could view the fire from my bedroom window at Tullybracky  5 miles away.  
New barn accommodates herd of Purebred Holsteins

Rebuilding the new barn began immediately in order to continue the dairy business, which for the Stewarts' meant marketing the milk produce from 48 or 50 purebred cows, something they had been doing for several generations.  The animals each had names, recorded identities, along with a detailed record of their milk production. This was a pure bread herd. They rebuilt with a barn which was the very latest in design incorporating a manure conveyor system to carry the manure along and drop the manure at a lower level into a spreader  at one end of the barn. Milking machines remained in use. The milk would be toted to the  Milk House area and dumped into sanitary, stainless steel milk tanks. No more milk cans to be cooled in cement tanks of cold water. The milk then dumped into the tank, was stirred, quickly cooled to the proper temperature. 

The following morning it would be pumped from this tank into a stainless steel tank truck for delivery to the Borden factory in Hebron. This was the latest in successful dairy farming making work easier and a better delivery of product. Surely this was dairy business. This serious venture would mean Bruce and I are going into business with the senior Stewarts  operating the Franelchar  Farm. What an entirely different experience than mine at Tulleybrackey 2. Wasn't this better than being a salesman for McHenry County Service Company, a division of Illinois Farm Bureau? I soon realized that I could live with the decision.
St. Joseph Rectory 

The evening of December 23, 1950, a Friday, Bruce and I had gone together to meet with Fr. Miller in the rectory at St. Joseph’s in Richmond, IL. for another religious ed instruction. Standing at the outside of St. Joe’s that night Bruce asked me to marry him and put an engagement ring on my finger. He had visited Ray Wolf Jewelers in Woodstock a second time. We are totally serious about our relationship at long last.  Bruce had never been baptized. We walked into the church with Fr. Miller where the Sacrament of Baptism was administered to Bruce at 8:45 PM. The Catholic Church would have recognized his Baptism had he been baptized as a Presbyterian, the Stewart family's long time profession or a Methodist, the Fellows family. Gran said he had not.  We did not announce our engagement to anyone until Christmas Eve, 1950.  That evening we went to Midnight Mass and then for another first, Bruce received the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. When we returned to the little ‘house on the hill’ we announced to his mother and father that Bruce was now a Catholic. Gran caught her breath, covering her mouth and swiftly retreated to her bedroom. She was shocked. I can only guess that she didn’t realize having me for a daughter-in-law would involve the publicity of her son turning Catholic in a very Protestant, prejudiced, community. How would she and Grandpa cope? Her caring feelings for each of us in a matter of minutes superseded any prejudicial thoughts. She returned into the living room with hugs and we knew we were even further on our way into their hearts.
According to custom, the decision to marry having been made, we would need to set a wedding date soon. We  agreed we didn’t want to wait until June. We knew one another  well. A few more months wouldn’t bring us any closer together. Farm duties would involve heavy land and crop work all summer long with only rain day breaks. Schools would be having their Easter vacation. In those days marriage during Lent would never happen. But Easter Monday followed after with  an entire week free including a weekend. Bruce would find someone to do all his chores. We made the decision to have our wedding on Easter Monday, March 26 with a week's time for a honeymoon.
Poor visibility
Later in the month of January, after my day’s teaching in Darien, I was driving home on a Friday evening on extremely icy roads and poor visibility. There was a bit of powdery snow to make driving very hazardous. Almost home, heading east I was  coming down that hill leaving Hebron town on 47 just before my left turn onto our Seaman Rd. Approaching the last farm on my left I saw cars and tractor at the driveway when I realized they were driving onto the highway to pull a car off the highway directly in my path. It was too late. I tried to slow down, to brake a bit, to turn away. I could not avoid and slid into the vehicles. There I was out on the road about 2 miles from home. I was able to call home and someone came to pick me up. I have no memory of who cleared up the road or how my car was towed home. I suppose Jack Sartorius, our insurance agent, handled it all. I needed to have transportation Monday. Bruce found a blue ’47 4-door Chevy for me to drive, to be our family car. 

Bright med-blue '47 Chevy
Jim says: “The ’40 Chevy went into non-op status until I recovered in Spring and Summer of ’51. Dad gave me the go-ahead (needless to say I had the motivation) to exercise and enhance my mechanical inclinations to procure the necessary parts to repair your 1940 Chevy, a grille; radiator from Sears, a hood, fender and front bumper from Genoa City junk yard etc..  It really became a work horse not only for me, but on a family basis all the way up until I left for Marquette and beyond”. ... Another note from Jim: "I used to take eggs up to Bill to sell to his customers in the neighborhood [around Brook's Hall] at one point in time when I was old enough to drive, having inherited Mary Kay's 1940 Chevy following her marriage in Mar. 1951".

There was much to  do preparing for the wedding- less than 3 months time. We had decided the day, the hour, the Breakfast, the Reception. January 31, 1951, on my way home, driving through Delavan I stopped in at the Delavan Republic to order 125 engraved wedding invitations. I made a down payment of $5.00. I paid the balance on 2-16-51, $125.00, signed off by Edward Morrissey. We still have the metal etched plate which was made up.

I put $10.00 down payment to Richard Montgomery at his Harvard, IL studio with a balance we paid April 3, 1951. Something new in the late 40s and 50s were these snapshot like wedding albums. Immediately they took off in popularity and to this day remain so. I had become familiar with them at MMC. I told Richard about them and he consented to do a series of photos for me on the actual day of the wedding rather than a portrait in his studio. As a longtime friend of the Stewart family he found it an easy accommodation to make. He was a good photographer. He had no experience as a candid cameraman, so I was to find out. 
Elayne will to be my Maid of Honor. Charlotte Eggert, Bruce’s sister had a cute little blonde, curly haired 3 year old daughter, Madeline Sue. I want her to be a Flower Girl.  Francese Whitney, another sister, had a little boy, Bill, about Susie’s age. He will be our Ring Bearer. The Whitneys lived a distance away in Springfield, IL. I could count on Francese to dress Bill nicely. I could have a somewhat formal wedding because I planned on making the dresses for us females. 
Search for fabrics and notions

I took my trip to Milwaukee, Boston Store to purchase the required yardage. I had once seen a Saturday  wedding at Mount Mary in which the bride wore an ice blue satin gown. I must find ice blue satin. I did. I wanted lacy long  puffy sleeves, a short train, and found a pattern to work from. Elayne’s and Susie’s gowns would match each other. I found a yellow lace material for these dresses and two patterns. 
Mother cooperated with my plans

I had a piece of work ahead of me, pinning patterns, cutting material, constructing the gowns. I would find time without any pressure. I was teaching High School??? I don't have this kind of energy now.

Mother had a blue satin pillbox hat with veil made up special for me  matching my gown. 

Mother made reservations at the Garogyle Inn in Lake Geneva for a extended family breakfast about 11 following the ceremony which I had not anticipated when our invitations were printed. Before  Vatican II Masses could only be said or sung in the morning, fasting from mid-night was a rule. We would want the minimum discomfort for our guests. They might faint from fasting after a long drive from points in  WI to the church in Richmond.  Problem is we couldn’t have all people invited for breakfast. It was a long wait for the outside-of-family guests until reception time, 1 to 3 PM. Somehow they’d manage. 
Bruce and I took off one weekend in late February. I recall his folks were with us. We visited the Whitneys, his sister, Cese, and Bud, and their little children, Patsy and Bill in their home in Springfield. 
Gift from Patsy and Bill Whitney

While we visited they gave us our first wedding shower. We have a shower card each child signed. They gave us a set of aluminum tumblers for our home. 

Successful Springfield, IL Shopping Trip

We did some shopping downtown Springfield to dress up on our honeymoon. Ifound this really cute red, turkish design pillbox hat, a nice summer 2 piece yellow suit, shoes, lacy petticoat, nightgown. Could this be when I bought my dressy dress, too?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

1950 Darien High School

Miss Bergin Darien High School, Darien WI
Darien High School, Darien Wisconsin

I had an interview with Superintendent Mr. L. [Larry] F. Cox. He hired me immediately as his Home Economics and Physical Education Instructor for the 50-51 School Year. Larry was a real gentleman, easy going, cheery, always smiling, a person people wanted to get along with and who lit up a room. He’d been with Darien High School, Darien WI for nine years. September 15, 1950, was my first day.

You see here how I attempted to have a teacher's profile. I wasn't much older then the girls I was teaching. I used my pro-curler to set my hair and kept it tight to my head with a shorter appearing cut. 
Junior Class is my HomeRoom Charge

My classes were small like we had at Hebron High. The Grades were in the same building though off in a completely separate section. I was determined my girls would learn from the units we studied. I made up charts for both student and I to track progress by checking off step by step. When the semester was  completed, or her year's study, she would know from the many how-to’s involved she had a real hold on the material. This would be a continuum from threading a sewing machine to retaining maximum vitamins and minerals in their meal preparation. My system seemed to work well. This tact grew from my previous year's experience. I let them make mistakes as well. One instance when a pupil haughtily insisted this is how her mother made white mountain frosting and therefore how it is to be made- with an under her breath, ‘Miss Bergin doesn’t know what she is talking about’. We did it 2 ways. Her plan failed so she learned from error. 

We had a GAA Club. On Friday nights when the teams played home games we would prepare Sloppy Joes, ground beef and sauce on a hamburger bun, in the Home Ec kitchen to take out to the booth on the field and sell to spectators. This was a brand new item, I believe, on American menus. I had never had a Sloppy Joe before this. Surely, we would have had one at MMC. They were a hit. As in Hebron High the entire town turns out for these home games and their sandwich. 
Our Cheerleaders

GAA and gym classes went well due to the fact I had actively participated in college sports and my activity was now paying off. I knew most the rules so could coach well. This tiny school, surprisingly,  had all the equipment for track and field and the instruction guides. The girls loved it. What fun it was! The page at right is a taken from the 1951 Darien High School Year Book. That's me 2nd row, 1st on left.

I did have an embarrassing trial when I attempted to put together a skit without proper rehearsal. Additionally, the night of the performance some of the key persons did not show. and failed to let me know. Reason. Spring farm work had begun in ernest and the dad’s just kept the boys home. These boys had no choice. I felt slighted for had this been sports the boys most likely would have shown up. Mother sat in the audience and witnessed my demise. She handled it well knowing how we learn at least as well from our mistakes. 
One day I took a group of interested girls with me in my Chevy on a trip to Milwaukee. This is why I am certain my Chevy had a rumble seat. We piled into the front seat, the back seat and the rumble seat. There were no number of passenger restrictions, no seat belt laws those days. In fact, retreating a bit I believe it was in 1949/50 I saw the first turn signals on the rear of cars. 
Boston Store

This was a grand trip, a distance of 58 miles.  I felt so comfortable taking them through the shopping area downtown Milwaukee. We visited points of interest to our studies, lunch together, and the ride home. The best of field trips ever there was. Teacher and girls had a blast.

We had probably monthly teacher’s meetings when I would stay late. This is how the teachers came to meet Bruce. One week the snow was so blustery and heavy and predicted to continue. Family and I decided best I stay in Darien all week long. I boarded in an upstairs bedroom from a lady in town. I ate my meals at the Colonial Inn which had a reputation for good, homemade, inexpensive entrees. Proved so. There wasn’t any activity in Darien for entertainment evenings. No TV. A good book would about cover it or working on Lesson Plans. 

Bill would be graduating from Marquette this school year. Jim returned to Alden-Hebron Community High School. With this setup Bill could maintain and pursue the Green Giants interest. "As for Bill, you know what a sports fanatic he was, so nothing deterred his pursuit of getting involved at whatever level he possibly could.  He personally knew players from Elgin H.S. (Karl Plath, Sam Sauceda), Jim Biggins from St. Ed's of Elgin, Jack Myers from Freeport, who years later was Angie's brother Paul's owner/boss at his Freeport, IL Ford dealership.  I might also say that he (Bill) had a natural connection with Blacks [I already told you this] which I too have always found easier than it seems for many of our fellow Caucasians.  Our David was likewise, and needless to say our Patrick who has all but given his career to Africa and its people with Pat knows Swahili as well as he knows English". We should hear much more about Green Giants next year, 1952, their truly amazing year.
Recently a U.S. Air Force Lieutenant  flying his jet 

Bruce now poses on his new truck in Stewart Farmyard

Bruce Stewart purchased a truck as he was hired by McHenry County Service Company to search out feed and seed farmer customers and follow up with delivery. We were obviously  by now entertaining the idea of marriage.
Though I am teaching in Darien I am living at home in the upstairs bedroom I share with my sister. All our lives my sister and I have mostly been like 2 peas in a pod. This is where we have most of our sister talks. Sometimes the conversation is intimate. Elayne is like Jo in Little Women. She is not at all keen on breaking up this family. The situation is such that breaking up could be immanent. Though I know how she feels she doesn't seem to hold my relationship with Bruce against me even though it might 'break things up'. So- what I want to know was entering the BVM novitiate in Dubuque a sudden decision? Never in all my years had my sister shared with me she might have a vocation. Far as I know all of a sudden mother and she were going to take this trip to Ireland before Elayne entered the convent.  The convent? That's this year. Is this a true calling or is this reactive to a family falling apart? I found this reference in my scrap book:  Dad, Bill and Jim gave us a place setting in my Bavarian china  pattern while mother and Elayne were vacationing in Ireland. Seems the decision was part of a plan. Why didn't I know about a vocation?

Elayne's journal reads: Stayed overnight in her apartment in Chicago 437 W. Roscoe St. Her roommate, Letty wasn't home.  They left Chicago at 3:05 arriving in NY  at 9 AM. They left on their trip September 4, 1950 on a steamship, Brittanic, 5th largest of that Cunard line, the trans-atlantic crossing taking them seven days New York to  Roche's Point, Cobb Harbor, Ireland. I refer you to Elayne's Journal entries for more information, WE LEAVE HOME...1950, commencing September 4. Elayne quotes mother's account of their arrival in Ireland:
" Mother's account of our landing: "Counting hours. See the lighthouse in the distance . . . gradually the green . . . more green plots . . . now dwellings . . .tender boat is arriving. All passengers to Cobb embark 40 minutes to Cobb. Spotted Noel and Leeny on the pier. They also saw us . . . this is really funny. I saw Auntie Gladys in Leeny's face. "       .

The Stewart Family had many long time friendships with merchants in Lake Geneva, WI, Woodstock and  Harvard, IL.  One day Bruce and I  visited Ray Wolf, Jeweler on the Square in Woodstock. Was delightful going off shopping with him. He bought me a beautiful 3 piece jewelry set, necklace, earrings and bracelet for my 23rd birthday. I haven't a clue what became of them. I do have the blue rosary he gave me from the jewelers. You have all seen that. 

Many of our weekend dates we spent with extended family, just dropping in for a visit, a meal by invitation. He certainly had a lot of relatives, double cousins, nieces and nephews, always a relative to visit.

Small black and white picture w/rabbit ears arial

Television sets had only black and white pictures with the ‘rabbit ears’ above for tuning. These were in each of his sister’s homes. Wrestling was a hot item partly because there wasn’t much else. Not very interesting. TV was such a novelty that once it was turned on these folks left it on through all the commercials and in spite of visitors and even though no one was watching .  Seemed to become a habit. I thought it interfered with conversation. 
Around Thanksgiving holiday Maurice, Elsie [Bruce sister]  Woodbury with their children, Roger, Marcia and baby Mark  drove across country to visit the Woodbury grandparents in  San Mateo, CA.
Barnyard and barn was behind the house

The family was living in the senior Woodbury home, a Craftsman construct, and farming the land. Bruce had consented to take care of the Woodbury farm in their absence which included the dairy cattle in the barn. The barn yard was in back, at the end of the driveway beside their home. He stayed there the entire time while they were away. I stopped by briefly each of these mornings as their home was right in town  on my route out to Darien. Bruce would be in the kitchen preparing his breakfast. Quick ‘good morning kiss’. The radio would be tuned to WGN for Uncle Normie classical music ‘Tunes from Talman’. I believe this morning show was on  for years and years. I would now add this beautiful morning scene to what I already enjoy about this guy’s tastes. 
The theme song for the program was The Sleeping Beauty Waltz from Romeo and Juliet.  Play a few bars beyond intro- you’ll have the idea. Certainly brings back memories for me.  Talmlan Savings and Loan is also where my dad kept our Tullybrackey Trust savings.I would drop by on my way home from Darien in the evening when my scheduling permitted.  I needed to get home to Tullybrackey early week nights for a decent night’s sleep.  Woodburys had a TV set. Might have time to enjoy the Arthur Godfrey show.
Preparing for Christmas 1950. Bruce had raved how much he loved the LPs he owned. LPs were new on the market. He was so proud of his 3 album 'Madame Butterfly'. I wanted to find an LP record for his gift. World was changing from 48 rpm recordings.
First Christmas gifts, LP's like his Madame Butterfly

There was a record shop in Delavan, the larger town neighboring Darien. I chose two records. There were listening booths within the shop, rather like a telephone booth. Here I could listen and decide if a recording satisfied me. I was looking for something classical. I chose 2 recordings which I could afford, a smaller album, 'Schubert's Melodies' and 'Haydn/Mozart'. Previously, I had knitted argyle socks for Bruce not as Christmas gifts. There had been a fad amongst us MMC women to knit men's socks, perhaps for brother, or father or friend or soldier. I knitted a total of 3 pair of argyle socks for him given at different points in our relationship.
We met with Fr. Miller in his nice, Colonial style rectory a number of times. He was giving Bruce religious instructions with the intention of converting to Catholicism which might soon involve marriage preparation. During this interval we found a series of Pre-Cana meetings at St. Mary’s in Burlington, WI. Bruce and I drove to Burlington a couple of nights so Father Miller thought we met preparation requirement. Of course, Pre-Cana was a series presenting to couples keeping steady company much that was involved in a marriage, in a permanent relationship. These meetings were about the best there was to inform, guide, consider whether marriage might be where  a couple was heading or perhaps not a good idea. They were good for the times. They were about all there was. Few couples took advantage of them. Sixty years later there is really not much more being done by way of information and instruction. What a waste! With these classes Fr. Miller was able to relinquish much of his responsibility. I see it is as embarrassing for priests as it is for parents to educate young about their sexuality. Will it change? I would hope so.  In my 2nd semester MMC Senior I had a class on marriage which was extremely shallow. However, Fr. Peters told us a how-to pamphlet  would be sent out to me on the occasion of announcing a pending wedding. This would voice the physical aspects of a sexual relationship. I received this as promised. The information as I recall was quite detailed for the times. This priest, or professor if you will, was so embarrassed throughout this all-female class, blushing heavily through the entirety. Thus, our relationship now was at least this serious. I do recall some conversations we had in which we wrestled with our futures and could have gone another way. Brought me to tears. There were certain items we had to work through together. There were no extended studies about finances or child psychology or how to raise a child or how to work through problems, including marital ones. Incompletely, I had touched on these as gist for my Home Ec preparation. I had a one semester course called Family Living. I recognized at that time how much the material in this textbook needed to reach students all over the world to improve society. Most women didn't get what I had and certainly Bruce had none at all. We had our families examples with both the good and the ill modeled. Should he and I follow through on our relationship we would be working with and through two family scripts. [I'm OK You're OK by Thos. Harris or/and Scripts People Live by Claude Steiner explain my reference.] These studies were unknown to our generation until the late 50s and 60s. We simply followed our family scripts, did what our parents did,  for the most part with a bit of enlightenment here and there, as all people have done through the many, many years and continue to do today.