Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Twin Lakes Shard One

Some of the happiest memories of my childhood were from Twin Lakes. For several summers, we camped out at Twin Lakes in Kalkaska County, Michigan. I was surprised to find how far west Kalkaska County is. It is almost on the shores of lake Michigan. We spent two glorious weeks camping. At the time, there was nothing built on our side of the lake. My father's sister and her husband, Aunt Grace and Uncle Clarence were there. My mother's brother, Clare, Aunt Grace and their children, Ernie, Jean and Earl also camped with us. Ernie was into drawing comics. He and I published a newsletter. My sister, Persis, has a copy of her contribution to the newsletter. Dragging our boat on a trailer we drove over a two rut "road" into the campground on the edge of Little Twin. After setting up the tents, one of the first orders of business was to build a latrine. The men went back into the forest and dug a hole. Then they fixed a branch across between two trees. One sat on the branch to do one's business. The first year, the men had found a piece of metal to use as a stove. Every year they buried the piece and dug it up the following year. The women cooked and canned the blackberries we picked. I remember my father and I and Aunt Grace went picking blackberries. One year we canned fifty quarts. I was scared of snakes. Michigan has only one poisonous snake, a sleepy rattle snake.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Primitive Living

This morning I was reminded of how primitive our life was in upper Michigan in the thirties. Our tai chi teacher is 94 years old. Yet this morning he was talking about what a school nurse did in school. I had never heard of a school nurse. When we lived in Dighton the nearest doctor was 25 miles away. In Michigan my father's sister, Aunt Grace, was midwife and she who laid out corpses. My first husband's grandmother was a herb doctor. Hersey was far out. They had a physician and a pharmacist. Did I mention that we did not have indoor plumbing. I had taken a bath at my grandfather's house. At home, we heated water on the stove. Then we took a large basin into the bedroom and did a sponge bath.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Living conditions in Hersey, Michigan 1929

We lived in Hersey, Michigan from 1929 until 1936. My father was Superintendent of Schools until 1935 when his contract was not renewed. This is typical of school supereintendents. Somebody wrote a book on it. As far as I know, Hersey was not incorporated. There was one medical doctor and a pharmacist. I used to go over to the doctor to have my baby teeth removed. Hersey had no sewage nor water service. We had a little pump at the kitchen sink. I think this went to a cistern somewhere. We did have electricity. My mother did her ironing at night to get better electricity. I dont remember about washing. We regularly had a hired girl. There was no school bus service. so girls from the country would stay with us, doing housework for board and room. I remember a party once, where we spread maple syrup on snow to make taffy. My father's sponsor was killed in 1935. My father was unemployed for six months and we lived on credit with groceries and rent. Our landlady was fantastically surprised one year when my father paid back all the rent.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Recent Shard

Today I attended a meeting of Friends of Justice. We discussed our views of social justice. This got me thinking about the activities I have been involved in. I. teaching parenting classes Lansing MI and Houston TX In 1963 I was depressed about the Kennedy assassination. My therapist suggested I teach a parenting class. I have found that my classes turn into group therapy. I taught women recommended by CPS for neglect. Mild abuse. Mostly these women had been abused themselves II. organizing a shelter for battered women Carbondale IL in the fall of 1973 I helped organize a women's center which flowered into a battered women's shelter. It recently celebrated its fortieth anniversary. I feel proud that we help start the movement against Domestic Violence. III. research on battered women Lansing MI in 1975. I was given a grant by NOW to survey how much domestic violence was present. I came to believe that every man on earth battered his wife. IV. In 1993 I joined an AIDS support group in Arlington TX as a grief support for myself. One of my best friends, a co-author, died of AIDS in 1987. I made a panel for the AIDS quilt. I grieved today because most of the members of the support group died within months. V. Now I spend one morning a week in the Community Center at Broadway Baptist. I screen customers for Food Pantry. People can get food only every thirty days.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Shard from Hersey

One of the earliest memories of my mother is watching her at the kitchen table tutoring some high school student in Latin. My mother taught language in high school before her marriage. She majored in German but when she came to graduate, the teaching of German was forbidden because of World War One. My mother was at work organizing the town of Hersey. I remember one Halloween when she organized an apple dipping contest for all the children. My mother organized a town orchestra. The orchestra met in our living room to rehearse. I was shocked because the guitar player had a naked woman painted on his instrument. My mother organized a players group in town. One performance I was sitting in the audience when my mother directed the orchestra and the play. Remember those aptitude tests when you were asked do you want to be music director or play director? I assumed one could be both. And the Chinese laterns hanging in the yard, transforming life into fantasy.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pets in Hersey

The other day I found a dog tag from 1928. We briefly had a dog whom I dont remember. This dog was stolen. As a consequence my father said no more dogs. We will have chickens for pets. So he got three little chicks from his brother-in-law, supposedly bantams. Well... as the chicks grew up it was clear that they were game cocks. Tip, Pip and Kayo. Kayo lived for many years, harassing every female who came into the yard. I have no idea how a chicken knew about human gender. When a woman came into the yard, he would lower his wing and attempt to herd her into his harem. He nearly killed my Grandma Schulta. Grandma was keeping him while we were on vacation. Kayo spurred a blood vessel in her leg. I dont know what happened next. This is one of those childhood mysteries. My last memories of Kayo were watching my Grandma Scamehorn fend him off with a broom. Grandma was living with us then.

Friday, April 12, 2013


I cannot consciously remember how hersey looks, and one summer on a trip through Wyoming I stayed overnight in a small town. Strolling after dinner through town I found a park I had seen before, wooded space tucked into the curve of the river. later I visited Hersey and there was the park. I had forgotten the river which cuts through Hersey. I winged my way around town on my roller skates. The hollyhocks were higher than my head and the cicadas were singing. The sun seemed hot to me and the air was breathless. The grass was higher than my head and I was afraid of all the mysterious beasties lurking in the greenery. My best friend was Avis Johnson. Every Sunday after church I went home with Avis to have dinner and play all afternoon, riding back with the Johnsons to evening church service. I remember staging a wedding with Avis. For us the big attraction was bridal finery. We each had a window curtain for bridal veil. Another day we played Indian among the corn shocks. Farmers raised field corn to feed their stock over the winter. After the ears had been harvested, the corn was cut and stood in shocks to dry out to be used as silage. Corn was stored in huge cylindrical buildings called silos, where it fermented to make fresh fodeder for cows. And then there was the end of the world. One summer we visited Uncle Phil in St. Louis, Missouri. It was hot there. Aunt Pauline had two neices staying with her, and one hot night they babysat my sister and me. Those two girls had outlandish names which I cant remember. I guess they were teen agers. They had been reading in the papers about some man who was predicting the end of the world. I lay in bed shivering in the hot night -- terrified. For weeks I was terrified about the coming end of the world. finally, in desparation i suppose, my fater began to indulge in strange antics. We would be sitting at the table eating a meal when suddenly my father would exclaim "The end of the world is coming!" He would run out on the front porch to look for the end of the world. Of course, he was mistaken. It wasn't coming just then.