Visiting with Sid and Irene

On November 3 this blog will have been going for a full year. One of the highlights has been the contribution made by Uncle Sid and Aunt Irene. They bring a unique and delightful perspective. A few days ago Mary and I stopped by their place for a visit – and time flew by for a couple of hours.

Our visit gave me materials for several postings – Edwin’s incubators, more tobacco, ski jumping, deer hunting with Bennie, skunk trapping with Odell – but today I’ll just share some bits and pieces of our conversation that take us mainly down childhood’s memory lane.

Remember Sid telling about playing tag with his brothers in the barn? One rule was “You can’t touch the floor.” I thought these guys hopped from wood divider to divider between the cows. No, sir, they ran on and over the cows themselves – and then grabbed the steel bar for the manure carrier that was in the ceiling to swing to the other side. I should have guessed! “Old Bessie” the Ayrshire and her sisters must have been glad for peace-and-quiet when they tired of their games.

Another memory from the thirties was going to the movies in Pigeon Falls on Saturday night. Twenty-five cents would do it with money to spare: 10 cents for the movie and five cents for popcorn. These were depression days, of course. Everyone was in the same boat, as Sid said, “so we didn’t think of ourselves as poor.”

Hanging up stockings at Christmas time was common, Sid recalled, but his belief in Santa Claus was short-lived. If I got this right, his dad led him quietly to peek into the room with the stockings, saying, “Let me show you what Santa is doing.” There was his mother, diligently filling the stockings! So much for Santa – and at age four! Sid remembers Christmas trees decorated with candles too – but they weren’t lit very often. (Keep the water bucket handy, folks!)

After his sister Clara and Ernest married and then moved to Chicago, Sid recalls the family receiving boxes that they’d occasionally mail to the family on the home farm. Especially fun was finding a five-pound box of chocolates at the bottom.

I’ve always been amazed that ten children were born to Emil and Gina, and all lived into their adult years. That wasn’t always the case in those years. We asked about illnesses and Sid remembered the twins’ pneumonia. He himself collided with Norman Hallingstad in a baseball game at 11 a.m. – and he was out cold until 3 p.m. There must have been some worried people around him. Years later, after he and Irene were married, he developed terrible pain below his eye, in a sinus area, I suppose. He went to the doctor who inquired about any old injuries and Sid remembered the baseball collision. The doctor’s fix was pushing a needle into the bone and then withdrawing a green and yellow fluid. Uffda. I think Sid said the doc did this a couple of times. Uffda again. But it worked – the headaches were gone.

Well, those were a few childhood stories from Sid and Irene as Mary and I enjoyed conversation and coffee. A wonderful day. Hopefully I got most of the details right. Thanks, Sid and Irene – and more later, everyone.

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