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?

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