We worked hard and we played hard!
Most of our games were simple and home made. An indoor game which was enjoyed during the winter months during the long evenings was often caroms, a favorite skill game. It was also a game that at times ended with teasing and an argument. I remember my sister, Louise, using the cue stick as a weapon when irritated–not seriously, but enough to show her displeasure. Another table game was Rook, and Flinch. We did not score dominoes, but the competition was to be first to play out one’s hand by matching numbers from our dominoes to ones on the board. This was a fun game, also, and it helped us early in recognizing numbers.
Musically, Louise, Merlin and Bob had piano lessons–by a “Miss” Noll, I think. I don’t remember that Merlin or Bob pursued piano playing very far but Louise became an excellent pianist. Often in the evening as we did chores we would hear her playing “Red Sails in the Sunset,” “Barcarolle,” and other popular music of the time. At one time she had an inexpensive ukulele ordered from the catalog. I don’t remember that she played it a lot, but she probably did while we boys worked in the fields. My mother played piano very well “by ear.”
In the early ‘30s, Dad bought a radio. I think it was a two-tube outfit that could be heard only through earphones. I remember his using it often to get reports of livestock prices at the market in St. Joseph, Missouri. For an antenna a wire led from the set to the peak of the roof and then to a tree or pole about seventy-five or a hundred feet from the house.
During our younger years we boys played hide-and-seek (lots of places to hide in the barn and out buildings). At one time we had an inexpensive set of tennis that we set up in front of the barn when we had time to play. We had a croquet set we played on the lawn at the house.
Family activities always included worship together on Sabbaths (Saturdays) at the Seventh Day Baptist Church in Nortonville. This was followed by our family meal at home or picnic meals with Uncle Edwin’s family at the “Timber”. Picnics were a great time with family and cousins wading in the creek or just playing together as children do. As we grew older, we had our family dinner at home and the menu often consisted of navy beans, potato salad, fried chicken (as only Mom could cook it) and cake. The cake was generally chocolate with genuine cooked chocolate frosting. Later, with the abundance of eggs, that changed to yellow sponge cake.
Family drives were a pleasant family activity on Sabbath afternoon when we children were younger. The drives to enjoy the country are a delightful memory for me. I especially remember riding in our open air 1923 Chevrolet touring car, and later in the 1926 Chevrolet coach, our first enclosed car. I was always disappointed when we could not just go on over the next hill.
As my older siblings arrived in the teens and began to drive, there were the joyrides, and church/social activities. Then came personally owned cars, Merlin’s “luxurious” 1936 Chevrolet; then a 1937 Plymouth for Charles (after he graduated from the Model A Ford), and finally I became owner of the Model A. Later I had a 1936 V/8 Ford.
Our only more extensive trip as an entire family was to Colorado in around 1928. It was quite a crowded 1926 Chevrolet, with five children–memorable, to say the least. Nevertheless, it planted the seeds of the travel urge in me. I was, in later years, to become a pastor in Denver, enjoying faint memories of that childhood experience, and identifying many of those scenes as we visited Uncle Shirley and Aunt Vernette and family out in the country near Denver.
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