In late July or early August of the year that I completed Fifth Grade, Dad had a very painful boil on his face. Teachers were only paid during the school year in those days necessitating a summer job. He was working at a summer job at a lime kiln in Jarvisville. While doctoring the boil, Dad became sick with a summer cold that would not get better, he was bedfast by mid-August, continuing to get worse by the day. We had a telephone by that time. The switchboard was in Big Isaac about a mile beyond Morris School, a village no larger than Jarvisville. A branch of the Salem phone service had recently been extended down the Ten Mile Creek road. We paid to have the service brought into our home. Mom called Dr. Davis in Salem who made house calls. He came late in the evening. He said that Dad must go to the hospital the next morning, if he was still alive. He would make arrangements for an ambulance to take Dad. Grandpa and Grandma Randolph had come that week to stay and help as they could for a few days. Grandma stayed on with us and Mom went to the hospital with Dad. Grandpa had to go home when school began. He was still teaching a one room school on Bug Ridge near Sutton, where they had a small farm.
Dad had osteomyalitis (a blood disease) and double pneumonia when he went to the hospital. There were no antibiotics on the market yet and Dad had very little chance to recover. Mother’s sister, Aunt Lydia Stutler, substituted for Dad as teacher all that year and gave Mom her monthly check so that Dad could keep his position at Jarvisville. He was in and out of the hospital all that school year. Sulfa and penicillin were finally flown in from a pharmaceutical laboratory in New Jersey. Papers were signed assuring the laboratory that it would not be held responsible in case death resulted from the medicines. Dad became a “guinea pig” in the use of sulfa and penicillin. He was written up in medical history as the first person to recover from double pneumonia. It seems that he received twenty-four tanks of oxygen and twenty-four pints of blood in twenty-three days. In those days the blood donor lay in a bed next to the patient and the transfer was done in one procedure.
Once while in Clarksburg Aunt Lydia took me to the hospital to visit Mom and Dad. It was so nice to see Mom and Dad too, but Dad was scary to me. He was in a big oxygen tent that covered his head and upper body, his eyes were too big and he was very thin with a voice so weak I had trouble understanding when he tried to talk.
Not long after I visited Mom and Dad in the hospital, Mom came to the end of the streetcar line in Wolf Summit early one morning. Aunt Lydia picked her up and brought her home before going on to school. That evening she picked Mom up after she left school and took her back to the streetcar terminal to return to the hospital. This was the first time Mom had been home since she left with Dad in the ambulance going to the hospital in August.
In mid-November Mom knew it was time for the arrival of her baby, so Grandma went to the hospital to be with Dad and Mom came home for the birth. Aunt Lucille came to stay and help with us children. Cleo Elizabeth was born on November 21. Dad insisted on coming home, so a few days afterward Dad came home in an ambulance to stay for a few weeks. A hospital bed was put in the living room and neighbors took turns sitting up nights with Dad. Mom was of course in bed for a week after Beth was born. I well remember Mom and Dad numbering two checker boards identically so each of them could lie in bed in different rooms while playing checkers. They opened the wardrobe double doors in the two front rooms and called out their moves to each other during their days in bed: “I move checker number _?_ to square number _?_ and each would make the move on their boards until one won.
Having Dad home was an answer to prayer. We children grew much in prayer during Dad’s illness. God does not always see things the way we do, selfishly, but He knows what is best in each case. He gave Dad many more years to live to ninety-one years of age. God is so good.
Within a week of his return home Dad had to go back to the hospital. Mom and Beth went with him. A cousin of Dad’s took care of Beth, and Mom went back and forth from the hospital to nurse her. This became too much and Uncle Orville and Aunt Lucille asked if they could keep Beth. They had four boys and no girls. Finally Mom let them take her home with them until Dad was home again. Mom did not feel that she had any other choice right then. Beth lived with Uncle Orville’s for nearly two years, I think.
While in the hospital, Dad’s leg became so painful that he could not endure the pain. The doctors looked for cancer or a bone infection from an injury. Finally they amputated the leg at the hip joint discovering too late that they did not need to do so. The doctors were certain it must be cancer, but it was osteomyelitis. The doctor never charged for the surgery.
The Christmas after Beth was born our whole community got together and delivered groceries and gifts, filling our home with love and Christmas carols. We children had our first puffed rice and puffed wheat cereal that I can remember, and we had lots of oranges and grapefruit. We had many food items that Mom and Dad had never bought. A Christmas we’ll never forget. Easter time a seamstress in Jarvisville made look-alike smocked dresses for we three older girls. How proud we were wearing those dresses to church. We would gladly wear them any time Mom would let us.
Grandma Randolph continued to live with us all that year and until the school year ended. She went home to help with farm work, raise their own garden, and prepare for the next winter’s food supply.
Not long before school was out Dad was brought home by ambulance again, this time to stay. Then the very hard work began: to gain strength and muscle tone enough to actually walk again. His left leg was weak from inactivity, and his knee had set up so that it had to be broken and healed before he could stand on it. Uncle Orville and usually one of his teenage sons came daily to get Dad out of bed to stand again and then to walk with aid. They “made” him get up some days despite Dad begging them not to. He may never have gotten out of bed again without Uncle Orville’s deep commitment to help him walk again. Dad went to the Veterans Hospital in Clarksburg and was fitted for an artificial limb but never adjusted to wearing it so it sat for years in his closet with his shoe and sock on it! I caught my breath the first time I opened that closet to hang up my coat and saw that leg with shoe and sock “staring” at me. (An entire artificial limb attaching to the shoulder was developed after World War II).
After that, Dad came back as a teacher and principal. He taught there until Beth was ready to start school, when he moved to Laurel Run one-room school which thrilled him. Mother did his hot lunch program and tutored students who needed help. They made a good team.
This is my story so here goes again. When Dad came home, Mom was busy caring for him and managing the farm and household. She assigned a job to each of us children and taught us to do them well. The kitchen was my job and I learned to prepare meals, bake bread, muffins and biscuits, and cookies and cakes. Mom was overseer. Mom did laundry but we girls could hang it out to dry and do the ironing later. I learned to sterilize jars, to can fruits and vegetables, to plan menus and meals, to keep the house clean and to put clean clothes in the drawers and closets. Mae and Edna Ruth helped me with everything I did.
Dad became overseer of household work. Mom helped the boys with farm work, milking, gardening, making hay, mending fence and cutting filth (tall grass and weeds). We all worked together and learned to enjoy our accomplishments. Sometimes neighbors came to help us.
Uncle Orville was school Superintendent and he agreed for Aunt Lydia to teach as substitute for Dad a second year. Before the end of that school year Dad was teaching again. (Dad taught in Jarvisville three or four more years.)
When school was out that May, I went to Uncle Orville and Aunt Lucille’s to stay a week so Beth would know me before coming home to stay. I got acquainted with Beth, too, and her schedule and eating habits so that we could finally bring her home. That year Uncle Orville was President of the Seventh Day Baptist National Conference. They would be traveling all summer so it would be a perfect time to bring Beth home, we decided. Thankfully, we were a complete family again. Beth’s crib was beside my bed so I could reach in between the rails to quiet and reassure her during the night. Beth was happy to be home and we all adored her. When I became engaged to Edgar and we announced our wedding date, Beth was in Second or Third Grade. She began to cry saying, “I was going to marry Edgar when I grow up.” She adjusted to my marriage and loved to come visit us in our home. We enjoyed having her.
When Beth was ready to start First Grade, Dad was moved to the Laurel Run one-room school two miles north of Jarvisville toward U.S. Route 50. Dad received permission to take Beth to school with him in Laurel Run. Government run “Hot Lunches” in school had begun so Mom applied and was hired as manager of that program in Laurel Run. She was menu planner, chief cook and bottle washer as well. When not working in the kitchen, Mom tutored any student needing extra help in any subject. Dad’s students were often top graduates in High School and went on to get higher specialized degrees. Mom and Dad made a good team.
Four years before Dad retired, the Laurel Run School was closed and he was sent to West Milford Elementary School to teach. He taught the “overflow” students from the Fifth and Sixth Grades in a separate portable building set up in the school yard. Dad liked that challenge and a measure of freedom in a building all his own. However he was ready to retire and did at the end of the school term in 1966. He and Mom were free now to come help us when Esther was born November 21, 1966. They thankfully were able to come again when Ernie was born February 1, 1968.
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