During one of our family’s many visits to Lincoln, Nebraska, I made a small request to Mom.
“If you will write down your memories of your childhood, I’ll make sure that our children read them,” I said.
If you knew Lydia Roth Friederich, you can guess what happened.
Months later, a brown manila envelope arrived in our mail box in Madison, Wisconsin. Inside was a writing tablet. Spread across its pages in Mom’s flowing handwriting, was what I had requested, Mother’s story of her childhood, — and more. Here also were stories of her school years, nurse’s training, her wedding to a young preacher named Fred Friederich — and stories of the ministry she shared with Dad.
The words you are about to read were written in 1978, when Mom was 84 years old. Times and media have changed. With the help of our son David, we have transcribed Mother’s handwriting into the media of the new century, to share with you over the Internet.
Mother called her tablet, “The Good Old Days.” I know that she invites you to re-live those days with her.
In the Good Old Days life on a farm was quite different than living on a farm now in the modern years, 1978. Everyone young and old had to work and help make a living.
The home I was born and grew up in was a big stone house. Even at that we had to share rooms. My two older sisters shared a room with grandmother and me. Grandmother was a habitual snorer so many a time I’d give her a punch or turn her over in the bed we shared.
The two boys shared a room and bed and in this room there was also a cot, which any hand or tramp that spent the night could sleep on. And mother and dad had a downstairs bedroom, which was shared with the two younger girls.
We thought our kitchen quite modern, for we had a cistern just outside where we could catch rain water running off the roof, and it was piped into the kitchen and to the hand pump; and water ran into a sink and waste water again was piped outdoors. This, however, could not be used as drinking or cooking water, but was nice soft water for washing and bathing.
On bath days, about once a week on Saturday, a large kettle of this water would be placed on our cookstove and heated and then put into a large tub on the kitchen floor and we all took baths in it. And if it then wasn’t thick enough to cut, the kitchen and porch floors would be scrubbed with the same water.
We had a drilled well just outside the kitchen door, which we would use for drinking and cooking. We had to pump the water by hand, but this was easier then to carry water from the stock well, where water was pumped by a windmill. However, when there was no wind, the tanks would soon be empty and we would have to hand-pump water for our livestock. On these days it seemed that animals drank again as much water as on windy days when the windmill ran.
After a long period of drought our rain water cistern would go dry and it was at that time we’d clean out the cistern and then perhaps we’d find dead frogs and mice and snakes in it. After this we’d hope for rain in order to get the cistern full again, as it was better for washing then hard well water. We always had a big black cookstove with a large oven. To heat it, we used cobs and wood and perhaps a bit of coal. A good housewife always kept her stove nice and shiny, polishing it with stove polish and rubbing it shiny with old rags.
The kerosene lamps had to be filled and the chimney cleaned about twice a week so that one could smell kerosene on your hands all week long. No wonder boys found other places then girls’ hands to kiss.
Also at that time we had a large room called the parlor. In this we had our best living room furniture and the door to the room was usually closed and opened only when company came.
Our family room was the kitchen. All the children would sit around the large table doing their homework and if we finished in time we were permitted to play games, usually dominoes, checkers or fig mill, and 9:00 was our bedtime, so off to bed we went, often leaving an unfinished game, for we needed rest and had to do work in the a.m. before we went to school, so the nights were all too short.
We had no heat in our bedrooms and they were frosty cold, so bed warmers containing water were heated on our kitchen stove and then taken to bed with us. If one leaked, which happened, we would have wet feet and sometimes nearly to the freezing point.
In the Good Old Days no farm was complete without animals. There were horses, cows, bulls, and steers and pigs and sheep; sometimes mules and the domestic animals like dogs and cats and at that some times even rats and mice. Then there were chickens, geese and ducks.
Springtime with new life was beautiful and exciting with baby colts, young calves and greedy baby pigs and perhaps baby pups and litters of kittens. The baby chicks were hatched under the wings of a cross old hen who was so determined to have a new family that she wouldn’t even leave her nest to eat or drink and so we would have to lift her off the nest and, so to say, lead her to water and food and in doing so the often-cross hen would leave her tooth marks on our hands and arms. Then, when the soft, fluffy little chicks did hatch, it was a delight to the mother and we couldn’t go near her without her fluffing up her wings and she’d take after you.
The mother duck was more gentle and often we would find her down a creek a quarter mile away teaching her little brood how to swim.
To do the chores was a lenghthy job and in our family of only two boys and five girls the boys worked in the fields and it was the girls who did the chores. We scarcely walked the one and three-quarters mile home from school, changed our clothes, snitched a cookie or piece of fresh baked bread and got at our chores. Wood and cobs had to be brought into the kitchen, the cobs often had to be picked up in the pig pens after the hogs ate the corn off. Then there were eggs to gather, chickens to feed and bring water to, pigs to feed and carry drinks to, cattle to get home from the pasture, then cows to milk, stalls in the barn to clean and fresh straw to put in for bedding and the manger filled with new hay and grain put into the feed box. In the a.m., the men would care for the horses and pigs but the girls would do the milking and help with getting the breakfast. Also there were beds to make and lunch pails to fill for the school children.
Breakfast always consisted of bacon and two eggs apiece for the men and one for the women. Then there were biscuits or loaves of bread and always strong coffee. Many eggs were also used in cooking and whatever were then left over would be taken to the grocery store and exchanged for other badly needed groceries.
After milking, mother would strain the milk into large crocks, which were taken to the cellar and left there for the cream to rise. Then it would be skimmed off, the cream churned into butter and milk made into cheese and kitchen use and what was left over was given to dogs, cats, pigs and chickens.
Whatever cream was left after what was needed for butter was sold. It and the egg money belonged to mother and with it she ran the household. Mother was a strong, dedicated tither, so for each dime she had gotten from eggs and cream she put one cent into a can as her tithe. It’s amazing how her money did so much, for often when dad had had to pay his interest and taxes, he would go to mother for help. As I remember, an old teapot held this money and it never seemed to be entirely empty.
In the Good Old Days, harvesting time was ever thrilling and exiting. As I remember, our first wheat, oats and barley were cut with a binder. This binder, drawn by horses, cut the grain and tied it into bundles. Usually a rack would carry about six bundles, which were then thrown to the ground and someone would have to shock it into shocks. Later they would come along and pick the bundles up and put it on a hay rack and take it to a spot where it would be put into stacks to dry for threshing later in the season.
My dad prided himself as being a good stacker. This meant keeping the stack nice and even and putting a good top on the stack. If this was not done and a storm came up, it would sometimes scatter bundles around the ground. So my dad was in demand as a stacker and often helped the neighbors in doing it for them. Later the threshing machine would separate the grain from the straw and it was either taken to an elevator or stored in bins on the farm. Wheat and corn where taken to a mill and ground into flour for the family baking.
Another way of harvesting was that the threshing machine would be pulled by a large steam engine. When it came into your yard, the entire family would stand nearby to to see the big iron horse pull the machine past us and the friendly, seed-covered engineer would pull the string and the engine would release a shriek, whistle and blow the black smoke towards us, at which time the larger kids would shriek and the smaller ones got frightened and hid under mother’s aprons.
This threshing crew would require about 15 men. They were fed in the farm home where the threshing took place. To feed that many men dinner and supper and an afternoon lunch and about one-third of the crew breakfast (the rest went home at night) meant a great deal of food and pots and pans and dishes to wash. So the women would bake bread, cookies, pies and cakes ahead and then when the crew came there were huge roasts and hams to bake and potatoes and vegetables to prepare and cook and the coffee pot seemed to run dry at every meal. The women would wait on tables and the younger girls would gather limbs from trees and chase the flies away from the tables while the men ate, as there was no spray to kill flies then and when so many men came into the house, the flies that gathered on the screen doors would come along in.
After the men had eaten, the women and children ate. Many times, most of the food was gone and we lived on bread and milk and then the fly chase came. We would open the doors, take large cloths and try to chase the flies outdoors. However, when night came, the ceiling of our kitchen was still specked with flies that had gone to rest.
Corn shucking was also done by hand. Sometimes we would have to miss school for weeks and help with the corn shucking, as dad was very particular and wanted his corn in by Thanksgiving time and we were paid $1 a day by dad for helping. There were usually two shuckers to one horse-drawn wagon. The child would take the one row of corn next to the wagon and if dad or my brother would not aim right sometimes the ear of corn we threw would hit my ear. Ouch — I can almost feel that sting yet.
At that time there were no cameras, so everyone had pictures taken by a photographer and then we would trade photos among our friends. About every home had a piano and the top of the piano would look like a studio gallery. One year, I decided to have my photo taken with my cornshucking money, for I owed photos to many of my friends. When I got my pictures, the photographer had made a mistake and had made again as many as I had ordered, so he gave me the extras at half price. Such a bargain I couldn’t refuse and I do believe my photo stood on every piano for miles around. I got so tired of seeing my face I haven’t liked having my picture taken even to this day.
In the Good Old Days, butchering days were a joy. Usually one of the best, fattest steers and several hogs were slaughtered at the same day. Some relatives or neighbors would come in to help and you in return would help them when they butchered. Large tubs of water were heated and the hogs scalded in it and scrapers were used to scrape off the pig’s hair. Everything on a hog but the hair and squeel were used. Even the blood was used and bloodwurst made out of it. The steer was skinned and the hide dried and then sold. The casing of the hog was thoroughly cleaned and later stuffed with liver or meat sausage, which was either eaten fresh or some fried and covered with lard to be saved for the summer or hung in the smoke house, in which we hung the meats and kept a smudge for weeks to obtain the deep brown color from the smoke on our ham and bacon. Then some of our beef was also smoked in our smoke house and used as dried beef. Other meats were fried and also covered with lard and used later.
For our lard we would use the fat of the hogs, cut it into small cubes, put it into a huge kettle and heat it on the cook stove, stirring it often until the cubes of fat turned a golden color, at which time it was ready to strain off the cracklings and the lard put into large earthen jars. The cracklings were again put into the large black kettles, put on the stove and water and lye were added and made into soap for our washing and scrubbing needs.
Besides beef and pork, we had an occasional duck on our table and, of course, there were chickens. Often when we saw our minister coming and it was close to noontime, we would run, catch a chicken, dress it and have it on the table for dinner by noon. Later years we learned to can meats by putting it into jars and giving it the hot water treatment for two hours and then sealing it and still later came the pressure cooker and now in 1978 we largely buy our meats in the supermarkets and have our own deepfreezer where we can keep our food for extended times.
Fruits and Vegetables
In the Good Old Days we raised nearly all the fruits and vegetables that were used throughout the year, as there were few canned fruits or vegetables on the market; one could only buy dried fruits and a few vegetables like beans. But there was always the sauerkraut and dill pickle barrel; however, most of this was also done at home.
Apples, peaches, pears, grapes, cherries, nuts and rhubarb and strawberries were all grown in our fruit orchards and we would pick wild grapes, wild plums and gooseberries along the roads or along our creek. Fruits were dried in direct sun on our porch roof. Some was canned, some made into butter or jellies and some of the rhubarb and grapes made into wine for adults only (as a child I could not drink it.) Only occasionally would we get a taste, which puckered our lips. Many of the apples were pressed and used for sweet cider and when it soured it was used for vinegar and winter apples were stored in the cellar for winter use.
Our vegetable garden was huge. We raised about everything and only a few acid vegetables like tomatoes could be canned open-kettle. So string beans had to be preserved in heavy salt water and then when used the water had to be changed several times before we could use them. That would again take out the salt. Pickles were made in large jars, usually with dill and grape leaves or also in a heavy brine and later soaked out and made into sweet pickles.
Making kraut was some family project. It would be brought in from our large garden (with pumpkins which were kept for winter use) by a wagon load. Mother would cut off the bad leaves, dad would cut the cabbage with a large kraut cutter. A barrel had been scrubbed and prepared for a container. Then the children’s feet would be thoroughly scrubbed and washed, clean short clothes put on and then they were put into the barrel where they would stomp the cabbage and salt until one went to bed and our feet and legs would itch from the salty brine. After it had soured it would be cooked with fatty pork and sometimes dumplings were added and relished by all and we’d have kraut for the entire winter.
In the Good Old Days, there were no appliances. All the energy that we used was muscle power. I remember when we first got our telephone. It was a big box on the wall just above our kitchen table and above where my dad sat to read in the evening, so there wasn’t much idle talk when he was on his chair by the telephone. His hearing was exceptionally keen at a time when someone was talking, so there were no secrets when he was around and talking wasn’t long, for he soon asked us to hang up so that he could go on with his reading.
Later we had two phones, one where we talked to folk on the west of us and the other to the east. Our farm bordered the county line where the one area ended and the other started, so often people would ask us to relay a message from one county to the other. Had they used long distance, it would have cost them a nickel or dime and usually they asked me to give their message, as I did it free. I remember of only once when someone gave me a Christmas present because of my accommodation, but if I didn’t relay the message to their liking, I’d hear about that.
We had no electric mixers. Our cream and eggs had to be done with a hand mixer or egg whipper and our batter for cookies and cakes stirred by hand.
Our baking and cooking was done on a coal- or wood-burning stove, where the temperature of the oven had to be guessed at by feeling inside the oven with one’s hand. Later we had a chimney stove in which one used kerosene and still later came the gasoline stove.
No refrigeration except one’s cellar or cave, so we had to take many a step to place foods where they kept better than the warm kitchen. In our home, we had a pantry which kept things quite well and in wintertime things would even freeze in it, so on cold nights we’d take our baked things, place them on the kitchen table, cover it up to keep it from freezing, thinking freezing would ruin our breads and cakes.
Washing was quite a chore. At first, we used nothing but a washboard and a large tub. Later came a hand washer, which we would take turns in turning, and we also had a hand wringer and we were excited when first we had a gasoline motor on the bottom of our machine, which did the washing for us. Later came the electric washer; however, not an automatic as in our day, 1978. What a joy it was when we moved to Clay Center in 1916 and had electric power, for heretofore we did not have electricity to do anything with on our farm.
What a change there is today in raising babies! In the Good Old Days when we raised ours, there wasn’t even a sterilizer to prepare bottles and feedings in. One would boil the bottles for 20 minutes and also sterilize the water and milk and then fill enough bottles to last the baby all day. This was an a.m. job for mother and often the baby would be hungry and cry before his food was ready.
There were no prepared cereals or vegetables. Oatmeal had to be cooked two hours and then strained through a sieve before it could be given to a baby. Also, vegetables had to be strained and all the fruit the baby could have was orange juice squeezed out of a fresh orange. There were no vitamins, so the baby was given cod liver oil each a.m. and if the baby then spit it up, the odor was very offensive.
Few vaccinations could be had, so when any epidemic came around, one was certain that your children would also fall victim to it.
There were no Pampers or detergents, so diapers had to be washed daily in hard water and strong home-made soap; so often your baby had sore bottoms and either lard or Vaseline was used freely to try to clear up the baby’s rash. Of course, there were no rubber pants, so oftimes one holding the sweet baby would get a wet lap.
Oftimes, the diapers were laid on the grass for solar heat to bleach and dry, for it was only a careless mother that allowed her baby to have telltale grey clothing.
Many a time a mother would nurse her child for about three years before weaning it. I was unfortunate and starved my first babies before we realized that my milk didn’t have enough nourishment in it to satisfy the baby, so I had to go through the ordeal of filling bottles. Sometimes it even seemed that mothers nursed their babies until they were about ready to start school, thinking that as long as a baby nursed they would not become pregnant again, as the pill or other preventions were unknown at that time, so it wasn’t unusual to see large families.
In the Good Old Days, only the wealthy could afford ready-made clothing, and in a small town like ours, one couldn’t buy ready-mades. So if any girl had any talent with a needle at all or if she could be spared at home, she would work with a professional dressmaker as an apprentice for four or five months, learning a bit about dressmaking. This she would do at the age of about 15 or 16 or after she had finished grade school. So at the age of about 15 or 16, I spent my four or five months thus. It was commonly understood that while in training, one would live in the minister’s home. In exchange for board and room, one paid a small sum, helped with the housework and, if there were small parsonage children, one baby-sat and in addition brought the ministers products from the farm.
I really enjoyed my stay with the parsonage family and also enjoyed the dressmaker that I worked with. During the months one worked with the dressmaker, one was permitted to make one garment for oneself. As I remember, I made myself a dress suit.
After I finished my training, there was a-plenty of sewing to do for my mother, self and even the married sisters who were now raising families; they were glad for my help. Mother didn’t sew, so I spent days and weeks and months at the old sewing machine, which one had to tread by foot. I even made most of the work shirts for dad and my brothers. Later, when I finished my nurses training, I bought a Singer machine, which I let my sister Marie use in exchange for her sewing for me. After we were married, she bought my first machine and we got a new one, another Singer, which I still have and use. In later years, we got an electric motor put on, so that saved a great deal of leg exercise.
I really did a great deal of sewing with this precious Singer, making all the clothing for our children and I even made all of dad’s dress shirts for years. Most of our children’s clothes were made out of hand-me-down dresses and coats that folk in our congregation could no longer use. I don’t think our oldest girls ever had a ready-made dress or coat until they reached the age of 16, and you should have seen our little boy in his homemade frilly shirts and long pants.
All the clothing made was too long at first, and soon they grew into them and they were worn until they were too short and then handed down to a younger sister or some other youngster.
Of course, we had no attachments as in our day, so much of the sewing had to still be done by hand–such as buttonholes, putting up hems or whipping on lace. But when one finished, one was proud of one’s accomplishments. Patterns for sewing also were scarce, so often I looked at little dresses (which were more plentiful now) in store windows and then came home and patterned after them.
In the Good Old Days, Sunday observance was quite different than now in 1978. When at all possible, everyone went to Sunday School and worship and often to a Sunday p.m. prayer service and either worship or youth meetings in the evening. Being a German community, it seemed that it was more important for children to read and write German than to read and study the Bible. It was not even permitted that children play games or ball or read anything but religious material on Sunday afternoons.
Our family library contained very few books. We had the Bible and hymn books and perhaps “In His Steps” and “Pilgrim’s Progress,” “Black Beauty,” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and that was about it.
In the evenings we had Epworth League. That was when we got away from our parents and if a boy sat beside his date it was certain that they were in love. Often after service a young, shy boy would have nerve enough to pat a girl on the shoulder and ask, “May I see you home tonight?” If she was willing, they would immediately leave and those standing nearby would snicker and wish them well. Those were the good old horse and buggy days; however, even though it was slow going,, one often got home all too soon (for us young folk; not for dad.) If one sat in the buggy for only a short time after returning home, that was the unpardonable sin. To sneak into the house was an impossibility, for the dogs began barking even before we’d turn into the driveway and even though dad simply couldn’t hear when one asked him for a nickel or dime, he was never deaf when one came in late and often one was questioned as to whom you were with and why you came in this late, as it was already past 9:30 p.m. Somehow, my brother, a few years older than I, was a nice quiet thing and I was always out for a good time, so if my father didn’t reprimand me, my brother (bless his heart) did. It wasn’t easy to be a younger sister even if I was larger than he was.
And so our Sundays ended and one didn’t see one’s friends again until another Sunday came along and sometimes a week seemed like a long time.
For some time, I played the old pump reed organ for our S.S. and worship service. Grandpa Friederich was a local preacher and since our minister served three churches, he could not be with us every Sunday, so two local preachers would take turns in preaching when the regular minister couldn’t be there. Mr. Friederich was a short, stubby, slow man in his singing; he was always a word behind anyone else. I tried to hurry him and tease him a bit so played a bit fast for him. So between verses he’d say, “Not so fast,” so I would hurry even faster. Little did I think he’d be my father-in-law someday and fall heir to his old organ, which I love.
In the good old days, all the children went to a one-room, all eight-grade country school and very few children ever even entered high school…(that was for city kids; country kids worked!) Most folk had large families and the schoolroom had wall to wall children and after the farm work was done in the fall, usually about the first of the year, the 16 to 18 year old boys would decide to better their education and come to school for a few months, until spring work again started — thus crowding our schoolroom all the more.
Oft times these boys were as old as the teacher and far larger, so we felt sorry for our teacher, whom we loved. Soon we found out that it wasn’t learning that they wanted, but to be mischief-makers. So when spring came, and the boys were needed on the farm again, it was a relief to the younger children and teacher.
For warmth, there was a large pot-bellied stove. Sometimes, it also served to dry out wet mittens and overshoes. When one sat too close to the stove it was too hot and when farther away one got too cold and the odor from all those drying shoes and mittens, etc., was something else — especially when some of the big boys didn’t have overshoes and had to remove their shoes to dry them by the stove.
We had no water well on the school ground, so we would take turns carrying pails of water from a farmhouse a quarter of a mile away. We all washed our hands in the same basin and dried them on the same towel. The long-handled drinking dipper was chained to a chain and everybody drank out of it. No wonder that when one child had a cold, it would soon spread to all the school children. On Friday evening the teacher would take the towel home and wash it so that we would have a clean towel for the next week.
At noon we would hurriedly eat our tin syrup pail lunch and go out for baseball or anti-i-over, when we divided in two groups, threw a ball over the roof of the schoolhouse and if the other side caught the ball, we’d run to catch the children on the other side. This would go on until all the children on one side were caught or the bell would call us to class again.
On stormy days, we would have to stay in the crowded schoolroom and we’d have arithmetic or spelling matches or our teacher would read to us, usually stories that we had heard many times before.
When weather was really bad, my dad or uncle would come to bring us home with horses and wagon. It was in these crowded wagons that the boys would pull the girls’ pigtails or sometimes pinch the girls, and whichever girl was picked on the most was the girl they liked the best.
There was never a decision to make about which dress to wear to church or school. A girl usually had only one dress for Sunday and two for school. One would be worn all week. If toward the end of the week it was soiled, then we would wear a pinafore over the dress. We would always change clothes when we got home from church or school.
My Younger Years
When I was 14 years old, my two older sisters were married, so I was then the oldest girl at home and so I felt I had no one to tell me what to do and it would be fun. But it wasn’t all that easy, for my youngest sister took very ill that summer and had to be rushed to the hospital with a ruptured appendix and be operated on three times before the appendix was taken out. She was in the hospital six or eight weeks during the busy harvest time. My mother stayed with her day and night when she was the sickest so the responsibility of caring for the household fell to me.
I remember the first bread I baked was heavy as rocks, but no one laughed because I was doing my best. When my sister was convalescing, I stayed in the hospital with her. It was a small hospital and when the nurses were busy during the night and my sister was asleep, they would call me to help them. It was then that I decided that I wanted to become a nurse. Nurse Lydia
When I became old enough for nurses training, the nursing profession wasn’t looked upon as an honorable profession, so my parents objected to my going into nurses training. So I spent some time helping my sister Lena on the farm, as they were raising a family. Times were hard and they needed help and I loved the children and working there. I also worked as maid in other homes and in the home of a doctor for a number of years, which helped stimulate my desire to become a nurse. I also was cook in the college for one year, where my brother William was a professor, in Enterprise, Kan.
My parents had retired from the farm in 1916 and moved to Clay Center, Kan. I worked in a 5 and 10 cent store for about a year and then finally persuaded my parents that I was entering nurses training in Bismarck, N.D. I started my training there on May 21, 1918. The first flu epidemic swept the country the fall of that year and also it hit the hospital very hard. However, I had no intentions of quitting my training. The heartbreaking experience was when you had nursed a very seriously ill patient through serious illness and he was about to leave the hospital and he got the flu and in a short time fell victim to it.
The nurses were well taken care of during the flu days. If one felt the least bit ill, their temperature was taken and if she ran the least temperature she was put in bed and taken care of with such care. Even though many fell victim to the flu, not a nurse lost her life because of it.
Miss Louise Haerman from Leonardville, Kan., was the superintendent of the hospital and two of her nieces accompanied her to Bismark after her vacation at home. In all, there were four Kansas girls there at the same time and Miss Haerman expected more of us than the other girls. Often we would hear, “And my Kansas girls,” and we wondered why we should be better than others. The flu epidemic lasted for months. All but emergency surgery was cancelled, as doctors devoted all their time to the epidemic. One would never know when or where one would work on a certain day, because as nurses became ill they would leave the floor and others would be called, perhaps after only a few hours of rest. Even with only four months of training, I was placed in charge of supervising a floor and perhaps nearly worked the clock around on the same day. So much for that first flu epidemic.
Nursing in the good old days was quite different then at the present time, 1978. I tell the nurses now that all that a nurse has to do now is learn how and which button to press, as the candy stripers, gray ladies, nurses aides and practical nurses did all the work. We had none of these. We had to do everything from cleaning and scrubbing bathrooms, cleaning our patients’ rooms, besides the entire care of the patient: bathing, changing beds, cleaning and emptying bedpans, giving medication, serving trays, soaking out spots from soiled linens, etc. etc.
We went on duty at 7 and off at 7 and if there was time, we’d have two hours off during that time in which perhaps we attended classes. Often we had classes in the evening and then we had to do our studying in the evenings until we fell asleep.
The last year of my training, the eight-hour-a-day law went into effect and we worked only 40 hours a week. After our long working hours before this, we really didn’t know what to do with our spare time and really didn’t like it.
After three years of training, we graduated and then came State Board exams, which we took in Fargo, N.D. What a thrill it was when we received our grades and were now Registered Nurses. After graduation I first had a job as superintendent of the obstetrics department, as the girl in charge was called home for an emergency. That O.B. work was my specialty and secretly I hoped that the superintendent wouldn’t return, but she did and then I did special duty work for about a year and then was called home as Lena’s children had diptheria so I came to Clay Center to nurse them.
After they were well I did special duty nursing in and around Clay Center. I was called to take care of an old lady, Mrs. North, who was dying when I got there; however, she got better again and I cared for her for 16 weeks and it was during that time when F.C. Friederich came home from Central Wesleyan College in Warrenton, Mo.
That was when we again began dating. I say again, as we dated some occasionally before he went to college and served his term in the Army and came back to college again. Only this time it was for keeps. How my dear old lady hated to see him come, for fear he’d take me away from her while still needed me, but he didn’t and I saw her to the end.
That Christmas we became engaged, but he still had over a year of college work so I took a job as superintendent of nurses in a small hospital in Manhattan, Kan., and then in June 1924, after one and a half years, I quit my job there to come home and get ready for my marriage. And so most of my nursing days for pay ended.
In the good old days of 1924, when we were married June 13, weddings were very plain. I had my wedding dress made by a student nurse for $5. It was a gray silk and I had gray shoes and a gray hat. By the way, this hat was hanging on a rack in our hospital’s waiting room and I said to a doctor’s wife, who happened to be in the office or waiting room at the time, that I wondered whose hat it was and I’d like to steal it, as it would match my wedding dress. She surprised me by saying, “It’s mine and I hate it on me, so take it right now — it’s yours.” So I had a gift hat to finish my wedding wardrobe.
We were married at 5 p.m. in my parents’ home at 739 Dexter St., Clay Center, Kan. In the afternoon we went out into the woods to gather wild daisies to decorate our living room table and dining room. We came home and each took a short nap and each was a bit late to our own wedding. F.C. brought me a nice bouquet of roses to carry and when the wedding march was played by Frieda Musselmann, together we came down the winding stairs and took our place and Rev. John Neumeyer, a brother of the girl who was my roommate during most of our nurses training, performed the ceremony in the presence of only my sister Elizabeth (still at home) and F.C.’s and my parents. After the ceremony, F.C. drew me to him and kissed me — what a shock! — and he a minister and this in front of our parents. It’s a wonder that Dad didn’t send me right off to bed without dinner and alone. Little did my Dad know that F.C. kissed me at the age of about 16, only this time he didn’t step on my foot, as he did at 16.
After the ceremony we had a roast beef dinner and in the evening we went to the country where the old stone house that I was born in stood, and where my sister Marie and Guy Hahn lived and had a reception in the yard for all our relatives. Later we were greeted by a chivaree crowd, which was the custom in that day. We stayed around for a few days. F.C. even preached in our home church that Sunday evening, his subject being, “Wanted, a Man.” On Monday we picked strawberries at my brother Fred’s and then made them into preserves and about Tuesday we loaded our one-seated Ford with things sticking out all around from the showers and wedding gifts that we had received and started for Cuba, Mo., where F.C. finished his student appointment at his first preaching charge. After leaving home, we spent our first night in Kansas City, where we also bought our first furniture.
Cuba was located about 75 miles southwest of St. Louis, in a very scenic part of Missouri. It was there that we established our first home. Our home or parsonage there was a huge brick building. It had halls the size of small rooms, ceilings were very high, five fireplaces in the house and I doubt if any of them were safe to use. The large kitchen had five windows and no two the same size. Another family lived in the house with us. We had all of the downstairs but one room, which these folks used as a living room.
Our church was located several blocks west of the house. Of course, the church was filled the first Sunday, as everybody came to see their minister’s new bride. It was F.C.’s custom to always have a children’s story for the children seated in the front rows of the church, so after his story he said: “Now, today I brought Lydia my wife. Some of you hadn’t seen her before but others had, but next Sunday I am bringing something no one has ever seen and will put it somewhere that no one will ever see again, so be sure to come and bring your friends.” Next Sunday, he brought a peanut and opened it. The inside no one had ever seen. He ate it, so no one would ever see it again. After he had said that, one little fellow in a loud whisper so everyone heard said: “I bet it will be a baby.” Well, I didn’t have a baby by the next Sunday, but in a few months I did.
One night someone shouted, “Mrs. Friederich” just below our window. I heard it when I was only half awake and couldn’t imagine who Mrs. Friederich could be, so I awakened F.C. and he said, “They mean you.” So he answered the call. It came from one of our members. His daughter and husband were visiting their home. Her baby was not due yet, but decided to come early and there was no one there to help the doctor deliver the baby, so would I come? I did so I had my first baby there. We made many good friends in the three months that we lived there before finishing out F.C.’s student appointment.
I sometimes wished we had stayed a year or two longer, just to have seen more of scenic Missouri, but the bishop said “go” and we left the state of Missouri and went to Nebraska. We knew nothing about Nebraska and Macon was an inland town, so could not be found on the map, so we wondered just what we were getting into. On our way to Macon, we stopped with our folks near Clay Center and F.C.’s Dad had looked up everything that he could find about Macon as it belonged to the German conference and he knew about it, so we felt better about going there.
Macon, Nebraska – 1924-1930
We moved to Macon in September, 1924. Macon is an inland town eight miles north of Franklin. The home was a block from a new, two-year-old church. It wasn’t modern in any way. We did have a bathtub in a little room off a built-in porch, but water had to be carried there when you used it, so we set a tub out on the yard in the summertime and the water heated from solar heat and our baths were taken there after dark. In the wintertime, we took baths in the kitchen. We had to carry water into the house from a nearby well and our outhouse was outdoors. We did have a Delco in the church which supplied our light, both in the church and our home. Lights weren’t too bright, but better than oil lamps.
We had a lovely group of low-German speaking people there and really a very singing group. We never were without a pianist or a special musical number. Two of our babies were born there, Rosina on May 29, 1925, and Doris on Aug. 21, 1927. Times were hard in those years, but everyone was poor and if we or others didn’t have money, folk would bring us meats and other foods and we raised a garden, so we always had food enough.
We also had quite an acreage, so raised chicken, had a cow for milk and usually a pig or two. At one time, our district superintendent came to visit our church, and he was entertained in the parsonage, as it was the custom for anyone coming to the church to be entertained in the parsonage. He saw our runty pigs which someone had given us, so on Sunday morning he told the people about our pigs and that they would need a lot of corn before they grew into hogs. It had results and the next a.m. a little boy came pulling his coaster wagon filled with corn for the pigs. Others also brought feed so our pigs soon grew into nice hogs.
I also used my nursing abilities there, for we were eight miles from the nearest doctor and we had a family of three boys living just across the street from the church who were always needing care, so they’d call on me and one day they even had a sick calf and the man came to ask what to do. I told him that I wasn’t a veterinarian, but if a human had such trouble I’d know what to do, so he wanted to know what I’d do. I told him and he tried it on his steer and it worked, so from then on I was a miracle worker in his sight. One day he brought me a small dishpan filled with soap that I had admired in our little country store and he heard me, so he bought it and brought it to me and this was the best pay that I could have gotten as it was such an act of appreciation. I also helped with several deliveries in that community and we were in homes and closed the eyes of the dying and offered the grieving relatives comfort.
I must relate an incident that happened soon after we moved there. We had a large middle-aged lady who had mental trouble. F.C. had called on her and soon after I visited her. She told me how F.C. had been there and that someone had asked her how she liked the new minister, to which she answered, “Oh, he’s such a cute little fellow I felt like holding him on my lap.” I thought this a joke so couldn’t wait to get home to tell him. He became outraged and said, “That does it. I’ll never go into a home again where a woman is alone unless you are along. Soon they’ll be saying they held me.” After that, it was go along calling with him and this continued for years until I had children and wanted to be home on their return from school and it was then that I said, “That’s just stupid for me to go with you every day for from now on you go alone and I stay here.” And so it went from then on.
We had a very enjoyable six years in Macon.
Western, Nebraska, 1930-1935
In the years 1930 to 1935 we served the Western church. We had a modern house there with indoor water system with bathroom, electric lights, etc., so we were really living it up. We lived on the edge of town two blocks from our church, where we could continue to have a cow and chickens. We had a good milk cow and got a turn-it-by-hand small milk separator. We had some milk customers to whom we sold milk and delivered it at 10 cents a quart and folks got skimmed milk from us at 5 cents a gallon. What cream we didn’t use was churned into butter, made into pound molds and sold to a local grocer. What leftover separated milk we had was soured and made into cottage or other cheese. And we were fortunate enough to have an ice chest refrigerator. Ice was put into a small compartment, which kept the rest of the chest cool and far better than the cellar under the house did.
Joann was born there in the home on Jan. 9, 1932, during a snowstorm. Since we already had two girls, the congregation wanted this to be a boy and almost sent us sympathy rather than congratulations. F.C. and I were not a bit unhappy to have another girl, for she was such a sweet, good, fat baby.
But a little over two years later, on July 13, 1934, a boy, Charles Edward, came. It was then the people thought that we should shout from the housetops because it was a boy. He was a nice husky baby, but boy or girl didn’t matter that much to us. We could love and accept either.
Because of a family I did little nursing there. I had plenty to do at home. Times were hard and all the children’s clothing was made from old clothing our people gave us. It was appreciated and we always kept warm. I even made dad’s Sunday shirts. All our laundry had to be starched and ironed, even Dad’s shirts were starched, so ironing took hours. In this house we also had a furnace, but no money to buy coal with, but F.C. was a good provider. He cut loads of wood in a nearby creek and he always kept us warm.
We had a fine congregation and while we served there the Evangelical Church decided to disband and they brought their membership to our church and they were a great help. One sad occasion was F.C. had to bury a first suicide there, and this man came from the Evangelical Church.
We were transferred to the western part of the state, to Gering, in 1935 and were there for five years. Our home seemed like a palace there, located five blocks from our church and one block to grade school. The church was being redecorated when we got there so for several weeks we had worship services in the basement. I did no direct nursing there, but was sponsor of a class in nursing taking their training in the Methodist Hospital in Scottsbluff, just across the river to the north of Gering. Also, it was there that I began camp nursing at our youth camps. Usually our camps were held in Pactola, S.D., and to it the entire family went. Dad helped with the kitchen work, supplying the food for the kitchen. Besides the care of the family, I was camp nurse, so I kept busy and when I got back home folk would ask, “Did you have a nice vacation?” It was anything but a vacation!
We were also introduced to irrigation here. We planted a large garden then and with irrigation we had an overabundance of vegetables. One year I made 100 quarts of dill pickles for the hospital. At that time the church got credit for supplies for the hospital, so that helped out in the church giving.
It was beautiful in the western part of the state and we enjoyed the scenic places around Gering. We used to have Easter sunrise services on the top of Scotts Bluff Monument and often we had picnics in Stage Hill Park south of Gering. They also had a wild game preserve close by, so we often saw buffalo and deer and even at times there would be a buffalo feed or wild meat on the market. F.C. also had a hunting ground near by, so he brought home pheasants and dozens of wild ducks and at one time even a goose.
Since Nebraska had more lenient marriage laws than the neighboring states did and Gering was the county seat, many couples would come across the state line, get a marriage license in Gering and be married there. We always knew where F.C. would be and many a time we would call him home to perform a marriage ceremony. Duststorms were bad in that sandy soil, so we never left home without closing all the doors and windows. However, we loved the cool climate there.
We came to McCook in 1940. It was a difficult church to serve, as before we came, the minister and wife were not good in their own finances and the church also had lost its credit. However, in the three years we were there, F.C. got things in good standing again. The church was nice, having been a memorial gift from folk who did a great deal for the community. The parsonage was five blocks from the church and a large square house and the arrangement was not too good.
Because of the war at that time, nurses were scarce, so it was there that I was drafted into the work again. One of the doctors, a member of our church, would tell me that a member of our church had a serious operation and needed a special nurse badly and would I be able to care for him a few days, so I couldn’t refuse. So in spite of my duties at home and in the church, I’d take care of this extra duty.
At one time I took care of a railroad superintendent who was very ill in his private car. He was on a side track near the depot, and the doctor said that he was too ill to be moved, so I took care of him from 7 a.m. until 7 in the evening and another nurse took the night shift. It was luxurious living — only the superintendent, his wife, his private cook and I occupied the beautiful home-like car. It was amazing how concerned the trainsmen were of their superintendent. When at other times the trains would roar into the station and put on the brakes so that one could hear the squeaks all over town, now they just seemed to coast in with scarcely any noise and never did a train stop there but what someone would come to the door and inquire about the condition of their beloved superintendent. He lived only about four days and then quietly left this world and went to the great beyond.
We stayed but a short time longer when we left McCook and I put my uniforms away not to be used again.
York – 1943-1950
We came to York in 1943. We had a huge parsonage next door to the church and this was the first place that we were ever next door to the church and we liked that. The church was a beautiful rock church. It is said that the rock was brought from near the Black Hills of South Dakota by horse and wagon and was built into this beautiful church. Our parsonage was badly in need of redecorating, which was done and we had open house so that folk could see our beautifully redecorated home.
Before coming to York, we as a family had agreed not to tell anyone that I was an R.N. so that I wouldn’t be called to work. Of course, folks wondered what I had done earlier. On this open house day, the three girls came dashing down the stairway and their little brother followed. He had taken the framed photos of my nursing days on the walls of our bedroom and turned them face to the wall, which caused this excitement. Of course, before this many already had seen the photos and our secret was out. However, I explained to the superintendent of the hospital there, who was a member of our church, what had happened and why and she understood that I had enough to do by working in the church and being a mother. She promised that she would never call me to work and she didn’t and my cap and uniform stayed in the trunk thereafter.
Mothers Jewels Home (now Epworth Village) is located in York and we had many nice and other things there. Our upstairs had a large sleeping porch to the east. A window in C.E.’s room opened onto it. One day a group of boys were going in and out the window when one boy pulled the window down just as C.E. wanted to jump through, so he went through the glass. He had only a scratch on his neck, which could have cut him severely. After that, we forbade any boys’ playing in our house when we were away, as we had been that p.m.
Joann belonged to a string quartet. They had their practice headquarters in our home, so there was after-school practice most every day. Doris also had many girls in there and Rosina worked at the air base south of town, so there were a-plenty of activities.
Dad raised white rabbits, which he had a lady dress for the pelts and then he’d take them to Safeway in exchange for other meats. One Easter time, he had about 60 to 80 small rabbits, which we began to dye for Easter. Doris was working downtown in Gale’s Studio, so since they were so sweet-colored, she asked C.E. to bring a basketful down and sell them outside their store. He loved to sell things and his dad told him that whatever they got over 35 cents per rabbit (which was about what they were worth) they could have. They nearly cleaned out the baby rabbit hutches and sold them at $1 apiece, so they made quite a profit. Dad was about sick when he saw his empty rabbit bins.
Also in York, we fell heir to a dog we named Patsy. She tried to make her home with a neighborhood widow. She offered her to our children and we had a dog. Patsy was trained to do a few tricks and would even climb a ladder. Later we learned that a dog show had been in York, so we figured she was left behind. We had her for about 10 years. She had almost lost her sight by then and one day when she tried to cross the street, she was hit by a car and we had to have her put to sleep. That was a sad day at our house.
Seward – 1950-1957
We hated to leave York, but Dad had so many other conference responsibilities so wanted a smaller charge, so we moved 25 miles and went to Seward. Our church and home were smaller there so the responsibilities weren’t as great. Joann had finished high school and greatly missed her York friends that summer. In the fall she entered nurses training at Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln.
Not having quite as many church or home responsibilities there, I joined the Woman’s Club and a book review club. After two years of high school, C.E. graduated and went to Wesleyan University in Lincoln. The first year he drove back and forth and later he stayed in Lincoln.
I had quite an experience one time when one of our church members came in and showed me a revolver she had planned to take her life with. She had taken her two boys to a babysitter and planned this. I always was afraid of guns, but I did jump up when she showed it to me and took it away from her. We had quite a talk and she promised never to try it again. At least she could not have with that revolver, as I took it away and never gave it to her again.
When in seven years we decided to retire, the congregation gave us a beautiful farewell with many nice things said about us and we were given a shower of beautiful gifts.
Retirement – 1957
It isn’t easy to retire. When we left Seward, we moved to 5714 Huntington Ave., Lincoln. C.E. was working in Lincoln and had been living in the house some time before we moved in.
In July, we began traveling. We went to California, where we visited relatives; on to Portland and Seattle to see friends; on to Alaska to visit some of David Lindberg’s relatives and then on to Japan, where Joann and David were serving as missionaries in the American Lutheran Church. We visited many interesting places in Japan and met most of the American Lutheran missionaries, who were happy to see someone from America. They all called us Grandpa and Ma. We had an enjoyable time there. F.C. took a great many slides and had good luck with them so after three months, when we got home, our Methodist women were studying Japan, so we were very popular and showed our slides and things that we brought back to close to 100 groups, sometimes being busy most every day and always on Sundays.
On our way home by ship we stopped a day in Hawaii and after about three months away from home, C.E. had left home and gone back to college at Evanston, Ill., to get his master’s degree and so after his graduation from there he didn’t return to work in Lincoln and when we moved here he had a good job with KOLN-TV and we thought he would perhaps spend his life working in Lincoln.
In 1959, Dad served the church in Havelock for six months. He also did some soliciting for several projects and then in 1960 he worked as associate pastor in First Methodist Church under Dr. Davidson for about three years. Later he was minister at Prairie Home and Greenwood for several years, and then had to give up his work there (which he dearly loved) because of cataracts forming on his eyes.
So since 1968, we have completely retired and find enough to keep us busy taking care of our home, yard and garden. Our advice to anyone is:
“Don’t retire. It’s too hard work.”
Golden Wedding – 1974
One of the highlights of our life has been the celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary. We really wanted no celebration, but our children insisted that we do and it was a lovely occasion.
All the children but two grandsons, Chris and Fred Lindberg, were here for the occasion, so it was a delight to have all the family together for a few days. Everything was organized by the children, so Dad and Mom just stood back and looked on. Cards came from everywhere, congratulating us. On Sunday morning, the entire family went to worship and sat together in rows of seats. Our family dinner was held in Greenwood and was our gift from the Greenwood church people.
After dinner we rushed to First Methodist Church, where our reception was held and over 300 people greeted us. There were folks from every Nebraska Conference church where we had served; some even we hardly remembered. About 80 of our relatives from Kansas came to greet us and later spend a little time in our home to have sandwiches, etc., and see our many gifts before going back home. Frank and Emma McBride and Arnold Trumpps even came by chartered airplane.
On Monday, all the children again returned home, leaving us with many happy memories, which we will cherish the rest of our lives. Thanks to our children, who arranged this regardless of our objections. Now we are looking forward to our 75th anniversary, so come greet us, if not here, then up yonder. We Hope!
We sincerely hoped to have a family. On May 29, 1925, Rosina Margaret was born and we thought her the most wonderful baby anyone could have. That fall she was very sick, had measles, double pneumonia and whooping cough all at the same time and had it not been for our Dr. Devers’ (from Upland, Nebr.) faithfulness, we no doubt would have lost her. He often drove the 11 miles to see her twice a day, so her life was spared. Rosina started first grade in Macon, but was in school only a few weeks when we moved to Western and she continued school there. She graduated from McCook High School and had one year of junior college there, then later one year at Nebraska Wesleyan. She was married to Neal Jenson on June 6, 1947. They have two daughters, Sandra and Kathryn.
Rosina didn’t care for hugging, so her favorite saying was “Oh Way.” When at school they prayed the Lord’s Prayer, so she came home saying, “Our Father George in Heaven, Howard be Thy Name.”
Doris was born on Sunday, Aug. 21, 1927, during a bad hailstorm ruining the crops around Macon and she was known there as the Hailstorm Baby. She graduated from York High School in 1945 and took nurses training in West Nebraska Methodist Hospital in Scottsbluff, Nebr. She married Charles Klutts Aug. 29, 1948. They have three children, Barbara Jo, Charles Lee Jr. and William Ray.
Doris, when corrected, said “Sina Does” (Rosina does). She saw a large snake on the sidewalk so wanted us to come see the big worm. Walked at nine months before she had any teeth and little hair.
Joann Marie was born Jan. 9, 1932, in Western Nebr. She was a snowstorm baby and a rolly polly little fat one. She was to have been a boy according to the people of our congregation, for we already had two girls, so they nearly sent us sympathy rather than congratulations. We loved her just the same, for she was such a sweet, good baby. She graduated from York High School as second in her class in 1950. That fall she entered nurses training in Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln. She married David Lindberg on Aug. 1, 1953. They served as missionaries in Japan for five years. They have five children and one adopted son. Their marriage was later dissolved. Children: Chris, Fred, Suzanne, Theresa, Wendy and Todd.
Joann had a little lamb who followed her and gave her a butt in the back of her legs, so she’d fall. We disposed of the lamb. She was a belly button tickler when tired or not feeling well.
Charles Edward was born on July 13, 1934, in Western, Nebr., so now we had a boy. He came without the help of Dr. Humphrey, who was in Lincoln at the time, so his office nurse was in assistance and his mother told the nurse what to do and we had a good delivery. His father hardly made it home before he made his appearance, as he was attending a community baseball game in the nearby park. He attended two years of high school in York and two in Seward, where he graduated as valedictorian of his class. He graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University and later got his master’s degree in Evanston, Ill. He worked as journalist in Binghamton, N.Y., and later in Milwaukee, Wis., for the Milwaukee Journal. Later he moved to Madison, Wis., covering the State Senate for the Milwaukee Journal. He married Mary Pearl Koertge on Nov. 9, 1963. They have three children: Matthew, Elizabeth and David.
C.E. was a real pincher, kept his mother’s arms pinched black and blue all the time she nursed him. C.E. sang the Hutt Sutt Song on the stage of the Gering Theater to the embarrassment of his sisters, but they liked to share in the free tickets to the theater he got for doing it. He loved French toast, so one day brought a loaf of bread from someone’s garbage can with a mouse hole through it, wanting French toast.
All of the children have been a blessing to Mom and Dad and doing their best to make our later years enjoyable. We thank God for them daily.
My Dear One
This is the hard one. It’s not that I am not appreciative, but it’s hard to put into words my deep emotional feelings. F.C. has been a good husband and father to his children and a conscientious worker among his church people and I am sure that his reward will be great in the Kingdom of God. I must say that at times he would have to let his work come before his family, causing a little friction; however, even Jesus taught that one must put God first.
As a husband, I married the man that I needed, for he made me see the better things of life and F.C. was that kind of a man. He also was a hard worker and good provider, so that his family was always well fed, clothed and kept comfortable. I never doubted his love for us and I am sure that no one else could have made my life more happy in these 54 years now then what he has. I often feel that he contributed more to my happiness than what I have done for his. I cannot properly express myself, so I will just add that I love him dearly and I hope he has forgiven me for when I seemed indifferent or hurt him in any way.
I have said little about F.C.’s work, so am in hopes that he will find fit to write a detailed account of his life, for I am sure his was more exciting and worthwhile than mine was. And so I finish this, in these, my Good Old Last Days.