Part 2 - Personal Memories

A Childhood Dream

Lesson 1 of the Exposition course required a sketch of my childhood which follows.

When I was a nine-year-old girl I became obsessed with a desire for a parlor organ. All the other girls my age were getting them, and beside that I was getting tired of making music on rubber bands, taut twine strings, glass tumblers, china teacups, small harmonicas and willow branches. With the idea in mind of begging my mother for a parlor organ I burst into the house one day after school.

But why was the house so strangely quiet? The silence was ominous. My mother, who was seldom gone, was nowhere in sight. My father, a physician and surgeon, was seldom at home at this hour. The silence was broken by his voice in the bedroom. The door was closed, but I could hear him praying. A powerful evangelist had come to our Meeting House and my father was a changed man.

I walked to the bedroom door to listen to what was going on. I heard him say, "Lord, I have sold my home, given up my medical practice, and have laid everything on the altar - my children, their education - everything is in Thy Hands." To me it seemed that the sky had fallen in. This was no time to ask for a parlor organ. There was to be a sudden and complete change in our finances and future lives.

Before we had time to pack our household goods, the people who had bought our house began moving in, the school children came for a farewell party. Goodbyes were said to friends, and we were off to a lonely, obscure community in the hill country of Wisconsin where my father was to be pastor of a small Friend's church.

His salary would be extremely small and the dream of a parlor organ faded.

We moved into a large white isolated farm house on top of a hill which was to serve as a temporary parsonage. At the foot of the hill behind the house was a large pond made especially for children to wade in. The country all round was unbelievably beautiful. The hills were covered with forest primeval. There were silver springs in the deep dark woods, wild berries, May apples, and leeks. In front of the house was a long road, but it ended for us at the bridge over a deep river. We could get no further for standing on the bridge and watching the long yellow eels and occasionally a large fish. The water was clear as crystal. And in a large tree near the bridge was a mourning dove's nest. The dove's mournful tones were echoed in our hearts for the former home and friends in Hubbard, Iowa.

At the other end of the road was a long white two-story building that had once been a Friend's academy. Behind the building was a deep, dark wood. In front was a lovely green lawn that had once echoed to the laughter of students who had attended school there. By listening carefully one could almost hear the voices now long silent. The lower half of the building had been made into a schoolroom. The seats were made of coarse planks and the teacher was teaching on a permit.

The country in which we had come to live was nothing but hills and valleys. The people lived in log houses in clearing where they farmed for a living. In the woods blackberries, May apples, leeks, and ginseng grew wild. This country was a favorite resort of Indians, and here they came to camp every year.

Then one day at long last the Friends decided to put an organ into the Meeting House. This was a very modern step for them to take, as musical instruments had always been frowned upon by the Society of Friends.

One Sunday, having arrived at the Meeting House early, I sat happily down to make music on a real instrument so different from rubber bands, taut twine strings, and glass tumblers. An old man leaped to his feet and closed the organ in my face. This made my father angry, and that very week a parlor organ stood in our living room.

When I talked to my mother about getting an organ she had said, "We'll pray for it." Now our prayers were answered. Where the money came from I never knew. But my prayer for an organ was answered.

Childhood Memories

  1. Saturday preparations - everybody bathe and I black all the shoes, etc. Ready for Sunday school and Meeting.
  2. The old hitching sheds and unloading platform where sleds drove up and people stepped out.
  3. Aunties and Uncles wait outside till congregation seated. Then Aunties enter on left and Uncles on right and take seats either side of pulpit.
  4. Go into the Silence - could hear a pin drop, so quiet. If windows open could hear birds outside.
  5. Preacher breaks into Sing-song - emotional. After service feel had walked all over heaven.

Heartbreaking separation. Lived in a little old log house. Saw my blind brother go stumbling down to the gate where a weeping tree bent over it. Leaving home at age 13 to go to State School for the Blind.

Memories of Old Days

1. Covered wagons were in use yet in 1884.

2. In 1889 in Wisconsin. Some oxen were still used, and all farmers lived in log houses in the woods where wild fruit abounded - raspberries, blackberries, choke cherries, may apples, dew berries, etc.

3. Each farmer had a Smoke house where they cured their hams and bacon, etc.

4. Used to find a weed called sheep sorrel with pink flowers - good to eat. Could make lemon pie of it. Also found wintergreen around Wonewoc. Thick green leaves. (Medical).

5. The children in the Wisconsin backwoods wore little bags of asafetida around their necks to ward off disease.

6. Farmers caught sap from Maple trees and made their own maple syrup and maple sugar. Sugaring Off was big day. Boil sap in big kettle in timber.

7. Hand cranked coffee mill, coal oil lamps and lanterns, iron tea kettles - how tea kettle could sing.

8. Beds and straw ticks and a layer of straw under carpets.

9. People had Buffalo Robes to keep warm when riding in winter.

10. Games we played at parties - "Skip to my Lou," "Happy is the Miller," and Capt. Jinks.

11. County Supt. visited our little backwoods school and gave us One word - Sticktoitiveness. He said if he gave us a talk we'd forget it - but one word we'd carry through life.

In Quaker Church

1. So many uncles! Uncle David Tabor, Uncle Benjamin Tabor, Uncle Jimmie Stanley, Uncle Joseph, Uncle Eli Hoover. Aunts - Rebecca, Lydia, Jemima, Hannah Hoover, Lucretia.

2. Had "Singing School." Stackman was teacher. Aunties in bonnets and gray silk dresses. Uncles had whiskers and broad brim hats.

3. Saw two cases of Divine Healing - Seneca Wildman and Mary Battey - both had tumors (cancer).

4. My sister Annie and I couldn't have pretty clothes, but one Quaker man said, "Beauty doesn't need pretty clothes."

5. Family Worship every morning. Everybody down on knees to pray. Prayer meeting every Wednesday, both morning and night. (Night for C. E.).

6. Church took care of its own poor.

7. English bride over in hills so lonely - Annie and I went to spend day with her. Anna Gabatos. Little log house in clearing. Showed us all her wedding gifts brought from England.

7. She burned camphor in (?) of alcohol - Frank Jones said - "See flames of hell ascending."

8. Our mother took such delight in Nature - Maple trees in fall, etc., kept house plants and took Vicks Magazine. Our mother was great W. C. T. U. Frances Willard and Carrie Nation - heroines. Frances Revered. Mother go to W. C. T. U. conventions and her reports at home were spellbinders. We would see and hear it all. Even saw lady in depot in Cleveland Ohio leading little dog and heard its little claws scratch, scratch scratch across depot floor. She wanted temperance verses at Sunday School. Phil quoted I Tim. 5:23, little wine for stomach's sake.

9. Saw Edna Pickering playing imaginary violin so hypnotized by preacher telling story of violin player. Strange look in her face and in eyes like dreamer.

10. Mother's beautiful black waves of hair and her talent.

15. Evangelist Joseph Beane and Singer Acquilla Moon stay in our home two weeks and hold revival. Acquilla a converted Ventriloquist, singer and dancer from side show.

14. Four of us went hanging may baskets and ran into man with gun. "Come another step and I'll shoot!"

15. Our mother was Dreamer - she told "us children" we would travel in Europe some day and order ready-made shoes from a cobbler she had heard about.

16. We had to kneel at mother's knee when small children and say prayers every night before going to bed. Every Sunday P.M. she read stories from a children's Bible to us and sang hymns. She played our accompaniment on her melodian - a small organ - her left hand never knew what her right hand was doing.

13. Every year we were invited to go berry picking in the woods with a gang of women and children. We got our year's supply of red raspberries. Our last ride with Phil driving horse like mad and us laughing. Phil right down on knees in front of dashboard and horse galloping. Phil had accident and shot in face and blind. Never go berry picking again.

14. Quakers Great for Peace. We had pamphlets all over house and Some on Taming the Tongue. Mother's sister came to visit us from Vancouver, Washington. Saw Taming Tongue pamphlet on rocking chair in her room. Terribly Upset! Someone put it there on purpose! Too sensitive! All our lives Annie and I had Great promises of what Aunt Annie would do for us. So when she came brought Annie a little fancy work and me pair of sleeves from a silk dress! But she left $20,000 to her nieces and nephews when she died. We got $700 apiece. (19 of us, and the Administrator got $6,700).

15. Aunt Lydia punished if not say Thee! Thy! Thou! Was heard to say you and hid under bed and stuck her head out and said




16. We had poor clothes. Salary of a washer woman. $300 per year and gave 1/10 to Lord. But we were providentially taken care of. No child ever on relief in after life.

17. We moved into Cook House at Ironton, Wisconsin, or rather, Friendswood Wisconsin. No one would live there because of a Murder and Suicide there. Also there was a murder at Burr Oak about 1895.

18. A yoke of oxen passed our house at Valton, Wisconsin, in 1891. Cepha Good used oxen on a farm west of town. His wife baked her bread in saucers.

19. Man from outside Valton community like to come and argue with my father. Called my father Van Slack.

20. Outside of our community some wonderful musicians lived. Lucy and Nelt Tabor, Nelt Atkinson. Nelt Atkinson danced jigs, etc., etc. Lucy and Nelt Tabor lived so poor - little old house and had petrified potato that had fallen down in crack and was turned to stone in floor.

21. Names of localities beyond Valton: Puckerville, Baskerville, Casenovia, Boot Jack Corners, Deer Lick, Hillsboro, Wonewoc.

22. Quaker Meeting. Go into The Silence - could hear pin drop. Then testimonies if Uncle Jimmy or Uncle David, etc., felt moved by the Spirit - Preachers preach in Cadence - up and down.

23. Salina Mortimer said to me, "Oh, Hallie, won't it be nice when we all get to 'eaven?"

Dr. Philip Slack, father of Alice Slack Krumm

Life in a Doctor's House

1. Beginning to be affluent. My father bought a Plug Hat. It was high as a length of stove pipe and was made of the blackest, shiniest costliest material. It had a narrow brim. But whatever became of that Plug Hat? Also my mother had a dress made in the County Seat at Eldora. This was a financial climax and they soon took a big slide down financially.

2. Folks preferred waiting for the Doctor in our living room instead of office down town! A tubercular man came often. He had been out west but got no better. Gave us candy from his pocket. Mother washed it before we ate it, or maybe never let us have it.

3. One day while eating our dinner a woman came rushing into our dining room carrying a girl with blood coming from her hand. She had cut herself with butcher knife.

4. Child brought into house breathing loudly - fish bone in throat.

5. German woman brought baby in a little bed tick during zero weather.

6. Ella, the Swede, was given laughing gas in our home one night. She walked around the room and stopped in front of each one of us. I was terribly frightened when she came and stood in front of me and stood looking at me so strangely. My father had pulled a tooth for her. She wore big broad brimmed hat and I can see her yet after 80 odd years.

7. The drug store gave away Foley's honey and tar samples and Annie and I got samples and drank it by the bottle till our mother found out about it.

Providential Happenings extended to 2nd Generation - Not only in our family

1. Phil blind and lost in large city of Vancouver, Washington. Chinese laundry slept on shelves - in morning Chinese took him to a church and through church found Aunt Annie.

2. Roger went to window to sign up for Corrigedor where every boy was killed and window slammed down in his face. They were taking No More. This at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.

3. Phil crossing Columbia River on R.R. trestle with boy. Train coming fast. They crawled down under and train went above them. Saved! Guardian Angel! The angel of the Lord encampeth about those that fear Him.

4. Kenneth got a job in height of depression - obtained work in Barney office in Ames. Barney met friend from Washington, D.C. on street in Des Moines who was looking for boys to fill three positions. Barney recommended Kenneth, etc.

5. I jumped over old well. It was covered with rotten boards and I landed in the middle of a board and started falling in. Girl grabbed my hand and lifted me out.

6. Climbed up in the Oven at Bluffton and fell and slid almost going over the Palisades into the River. Chas. Akers caught hold of tree and saved us. We were both sliding down.

7. Caught in middle of street in Long Beach, California, and stepped between two street cars. Had to wait till they passed each other and ME in between.

8. At Oelwein, Iowa, I went into R.R. yards to meet blind brother's train. Train engine with long sharp sword on side came along and would have cut off my legs. Stranger grabbed me and pulled me to one side.

About my Mother

1. She invited Scotty to our home to read Bobby Burns to her in Scottish Dialect. He was a boy from Scotland and a stranger and butt of all jokes because of his brogue - but how she made him feel important and appreciated. I never saw her be rude to anyone. She had good manners.

2. My mother's Grandma on her father's side was Polly Arnold - a direct descendant of Benedict Arnold. She named her first son Robert Arnold Page and he was my grandfather. Robert and Rachel Page lived at Bull Run, Fairfax Co., Va. and moved to S. C. in 1765.

3. My mother was great at making substitution for the right things. For instance, a white sheet made a fine-looking table cloth for company. Camphor took the place of alcohol when she wanted to burn it and illustrate a temperance lesson at Sunday School.

4. My mother always kept a few pennies in the sewing machine drawers. It seemed to make her feel rich as if she had money to throw around and cared nothing to have it lying loose.

5. Taught us early in life that we were not to live always. Must get ready for death.

6. Our different homes - a log house (covered with lumber). Back end of country store. Owner put partition through and separated three bedrooms and we had a living-dining-kitchen room all in one. One house was on a hillside on edge of town, big old elm trees in front. Never had a well, but always carried water from across the road except our hillside home. Mother loved the Whip-poor-wills's song, the autumn leaves, the hills - "The Whip-poor-will's a whippin'." Kenneth.

1. White sugar came in about 1885. Always brown sugar until then. Coffee came as green beans. Mother roasted it and it was ground in a coffee mill as needed. The smell of roasting coffee was good. Mother stirred it often. I can see her yet bending over long pan partly out of oven stirring the coffee beans.

2. My father believed Every word of the Bible. No higher criticism for Him.

- Sad things -

3. One beautiful moonlit night we heard a girl, Ella Jones, singing "Oh, those Beautiful Beautiful Hands." She was walking home with Terry Shore. We listened to her sing as far as we could hear her. Then she sent a note to Terry warning him that she was pregnant. Terry and Marion Jackson skipped the country and left her to face it alone. They got out of the State of Wisconsin and clear across Iowa to Estherville where they stole horses and buggy. They were arrested and tricked into confessing their theft. They were put in separate rooms and told that their partner had confessed which was not true. But the one who didn't know what they were up to confessed because he thought his partner had confessed. Ella had twin boys and Terry and Marion were put in the penitentiary where Terry contracted T.B. When he came home to die Ella went to see him. One Sunday P.M. Annie and I went to see Ella but we couldn't find her. We found wagon tracks in the woods. That made us so sad. She had taken the twins in a little wagon and gone far into the woods alone.

4. Tommy Toole's mother died and relatives left him to play all P.M. with Annie and me. They were taking him to a town to live with a family. Annie and I loved him and he promised to come again. But fell into a tub of boiling water and died in a short time later. We always mourned his death. So unnecessary!

1. Ringling Circus came to Hubbard about 1887. Drove their elephants across the country and broke down our little bridges.

2. No autos, electric lights, radios, airplanes, submarines, TV, washing machines, antibiotics, atom bombs, or telephones, or paved roads. Never saw phone or used it till 1895.

3. Annie, Phil, and I liked to tempt fate. Hold our faces in pan of water and not breathe. Eat choke cherries and drink milk, see who could swallow the most pennies, buttons, etc.

4. Queer characters: 1. Eli Horton, Bim, Lucy, Putt

2. Hunters - Mrs., Willie, Jeanette

3. Dearholts - Frank Jones

4. Cepha Good - Elihu Presnall and daughter Eunice

5. Winters were hard - old hard coal burner, frost on the windows, blizzards and snow steps - stairways of snow on side-walk.

6. My father would find brilliant young men too poor for education and take them into our home to live. Allen Bradfield was one and Arad Towne another.

7. Annie and I had to sing for people. Annie alto and me soprano. Jennie Trout had us sing and I imagined her an Indian and us captives.

8. Radcliffe was cows and swampy land and buttercups and horses and bobsleds and two-seated buggy.

9. Our father brought funny stories home. He told a child to show him her tongue. She didn't understand. Her mother said, "Open your gob and shove out your lollicker."

List of Happy Memories

1. Kenneth gets a Government Job - security for life. Pension when retire.

2. Going to Garden Wedding on Texas Ranch.

3. Playing Capt. Jinks in Mary Chase's kitchen - Age 16.

4. Seeing Ethel Hutchins once more after 50 years. She called me every endearing name in the English language.

5. Seeing Annie for the second time in 1928. Saw her in 1918. Only twice after she was married.

6. My first sight of the Pacific Ocean.

7. Singing with the Burr Oak Sunday School children in dark when electricity went off.

8. Our farewell party with Hubbard school children.

9. With Vert Dearholt at school and at the pond.

10. Moonlight scenes with our mother.

11. Inherited between $700 and $800 from Aunt Annie.

12. Inherited $900 from Ida Scheller.

13. Sunday dinner with Lou and Sol Wright - Hunchbacks. They lived in a house in the woods like Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. Like a Play House.

14. Formal dinner at Burr Oak with the young people and the dances taught by the Farm Bureau up in the IOOF hall. How Elsie loved "Come Let us be Joyful."

15. Singing with Will Baker on Sunday P.M. and he loved "The Lily of the Valley" and requested it be sung at his funeral.

16. Rode on the Centennial Float in Decorah and played the old organ.

17. Little old Grandpa and Grandma came to our house to see doctor. Father and mother both gone. Enjoyed the old people lots and she gave us doughnuts. Perfect strangers. The couple looked like gnomes or dwarfs. Both were short and heavyset.

If Hubbard was primitive without phones, electric lights, autos, our move to Wisconsin took us farther back in time. Yokes of oxen, old schoolhouses with coarse planks for desks, log houses, mule teams. Our dreams were all shattered. But we had family worship every morning after breakfast. Everybody down on knees. Religious services about four times weekly. Everybody was related. Too much confinement to one locality. Couples married themselves in Indiana!! Had to learn to say First day, Second day, Third day, etc., and always we'd do this or that - The Lord Willing. The school children were always talking about Ruth Moore who had moved away. She sang Juanita, they said. We were tramping around the hills and came to a little log school house. Some of the children knew us and when school convened the teacher let them choose a song. It was "Sweet Allie Ray - She came to our home in the springtime when the apple buds were bursting into bloom." The way we learned table manners was from visiting church dignitaries that came to our home. In every community we discovered the same kind of people who tell your secrets from the rooftops, like leaning your hand on broken reed. People who slander, cheat, lie. We never had a well at a parsonage. I, with a pail, brought running water to the house. One shoulder is lower than the other from carrying heavy pails of water.

About Mother

(Some writing I did years ago)

How those scissors used to twist and turn in my mother's hand. It was sheer magic - those twisting, turning scissors, scraps of paper falling to the floor, and then a squirrel with its tail curled over its back would make a sudden appearance.

What my mother could do with scissors and a discarded newspaper was a never-ending source of wonder and delight to me. No other person could do the things she did. It was like having an Aladdin's lamp in our house. We could ask for any animal we wanted. She not only produced squirrels, but elephants, tigers, and lions, and the paper dolls she made for my sister and me were more beautiful than those that money could buy. They were life-size and had embroidered underskirts and black hair made with ink held over a kerosene lamp until it dried.

With our hands full of dolls and animals of every kind, we children went happily to bed but not before kneeling at our mother's knee with our heads in her lap and saying, "Now I Lay Me." In retrospect, I can still see three little children, my brother, sister, and me, dressed in our night clothes, kneeling at mother's knee in the light of a kerosene lamp, and God was there in the hallowed hush of that evening hour.

My mother made it a rule to have her children go to bed happy. So bedtime at our house was the happiest hour of the day. I know now that as life went on, we were unusually happy children. It was all because of that happy bedtime hour. In after years, the hills were always rejoicing, flowers smiled at us, and rippling waters spoke.

Bedtime was only one phase of our lives. Every Sunday afternoon we sang around a little melodian (a miniature organ) that our mother played. Her right hand could play tunes properly, but her left hand came down on the keys regardless of where. But we didn't mind. We sang with all our hearts. My favorite song was, "Dan, Scatter Seeds of Kindness." We sang Rock of Ages, He Leadeth Me, and the old hymns my mother loved best.

After the singing came the reading of a children's Bible and Pilgrim's Progress. When Pilgrim was in great danger, not knowing which way to turn, our mother would drowse off to sleep, and no amount of persuasion on our part could rouse her. Poor Pilgrim was in danger, but there was no use trying to get her to read farther. She was sound asleep. This happened every Sunday afternoon.

She early made us at home with the idea that we were not to live alway and that we would surely die. She taught us to prepare for the world that is to be. She said that God had a big book and wrote down everything that bad people did. Some day there would be a Judgment Day and he would open the book and send the bad folks away. The good ones could go to Heaven with Him.

The Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra

From my diary Feb. 23rd, 1940

We heard the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra last night. The magnificent chorals, crescendos, and diminuendos succeeded in making the music uncanny and eerie at times. The music laid its hands on our heart strings. One selection had bouncing bows on the violins that pulled the tune to the top of the hill, and then the cellos took hold of it and slid down to the bottom with it. Instruments echoed each other. Sometimes the music died away till it could barely be heard. In one piece of music there seemed to be a living soul and it forced itself up through a tumult of sound till it triumphed over all. "My Unconquerable Soul," I called that one. And the Sorcerer's Apprentice was exciting. The Apprentice used his Master's Magic Words and got the broom to carrying water. But he couldn't stop it, so he took the ax and chopped the broom in two. Then it carried twice as much. To get the tinkling effect of dripping water they used tiny bells. One of their pieces ended dying, dying, dying, dying. The conductor wore long coattails that flapped like rags in a wind and even detracted from the music at times. He has to go out and change his shirt at times, he gets so wet from perspiration. He was born in Athens and is a Greek, Dimitri Mitroponlos. He is going to New York City for four weeks as Guest Conductor. In Boston, the orchestra leader got so jealous they had to get him out of town. The audience was spellbound most of the time - even the school children who knew little about music.

A Day in My Life - June 24, 1939

From Diary

4:30 A.M. Rise and make doughnuts.

6:30 A.M. Serve breakfast, wash dishes, feed chickens, wash cream separator and milk cans 30 min. Scrub out milk house.

8:00 to 9:15 Not tired. Mop kitchen, scrub back porch and sidewalk betw. house and milk house. Dust all floors and rugs.

9:15 A.M. Getting a little tired but make pie for dinner, go to the garden and get vegetables for dinner.

10:30 A.M. Start dinner - eat - wash dishes. Took a nap in a hot room from 1:00 P.M. to 2:30.

3:00 P.M. Start work - chicken chores, get supper, wash dishes, etc.

Alice Krumm doing chores on the farm

From my diary - May 10th, 1939: I believe that if people want to get well they should make some effort themselves. There must come a time when they discard medicine and all artificial aid and make the fight themselves. The more they stand alone on their own legs the better off they are.

How to make character come alive when writing.

Here is a sample of what I did once just for practice:

It was Sunday morning in early fall. Usually at this time of year there were cold, icy winds, and people like to stay indoors. But this day seemed made to order. The hills were rejoicing, the warm sun shone brightly, and there was a soft, warm breeze.

There was to be a funeral that day and nature was in her kindest mood. The funeral was to be in an old stone house near the Iowa River. The house was an old landmark with the date of building carved in the gable, 1854. There were old pine trees around the house that were as old as the house and had grown a whole century to be such giants as they were.

Scenes of other days came creeping back. There came the form of an old man who had lived in the house a generation ago. There were beehives under the old pine trees and the old man was moving around among them. The old man had passed away years before this day and the funeral to be held in the old house was for his son.

Nature shed her beneficence that day and a deep, hallowed silence filled the air. The peace and calm was ethereal. The old pine trees sang a requiem. There was a hushed still form inside the house. How many times he had stood under the old pines feeling the sunshine and listening to the happy bird songs. Now he was gone, but the waters rippled on, and the mist rose above the river as he had seen it many times, etc., etc.

Here is a description of my walk to the mailbox in summer:

I walked to the mailbox along the road through the center of a cornfield. The leaves were rustling like the soft swish of a lady's silk skirt. Could hear birds both far away and near. One had a happy laugh, another laughed like a hysterical woman, "Ha! Ha! Ha!" A red bird whistled and another answered with a far off call. White clouds floated over the blue sky such as one sees only in summer. Heard a Chinese pheasant crow from a nearby clump of trees. But he was too wary. I couldn't see him.

Again in fall:

The combine in the oats field was too noisy. I couldn't hear the swish of leaves in the cornfield. The purple feathery fall flowers were beginning to bloom and the golden black-eyed Susans. There was the bed of lilies long since through blooming lying beside the road, that I planted long ago and had forgotten that I had. This time there were no bird songs to be heard because the roar of the combine drowned them out.

Science is largely a matter of deduction. Ruth should have taken science. She learned to read by deduction.

Up in the Piney Woods of Northern Minnesota

The air was full of the scent of pine trees at Whitefish Lake. And the tree swallows, warblers (six or eight kinds of them) joined their voices with the vireos and loons (the Minnesota state bird) to fill the air all 'round the lake with bird music.

On the hill above the lake were homey-looking white cabins for housekeeping. In front were lovely green lawns with white birch trees scattered around. The blue water of the lake could be seen through the leaves of the trees on the hillside.

We took a cabin with a long, long trail a winding down the hill through the woods to the lake. A stairway of unusual length led to the boat landing. In the cabin was an easy chair with a tall reading lamp beside it. It said as plainly as words, "Sit here, and make yourself at home." The two bedrooms were clean and comfortable. There was a shower and a well-equipped kitchen with a refrigerator, gas stove, toaster, and cupboard full of dishes.

The cupboard was bare of food so Emily and I set out to find a tiny country grocery store that we had passed on the way. We saw a great deal of northern Minnesota trying to find our way back to the cabin. We tried first one road and then another. Finally we stopped at a house to inquire our way and found that we were only a short distance from the cabin.

By the time we, Emily and I, reached the lake after the supper dishes were done night began coming down over the water. It made a never-to-be-forgotten scene. The woods drew closer around the lake and the water softly changed from dark blue to black. It became very quiet and peaceful. It was time to go to bed. We went back to the cabin and soon had the three lights blazing brightly.

Next morning the smell of frying bacon gave us a feeling of home. After breakfast we all (Kenneth, the three boys, Emily, and I) went down the long stairs to the boat landing and took an early boat ride on the lake. The warm sun shone kindly and the tree swallows entertained us by darting down and skimming close to the surface of the water for long distance.

Down on the Swanee River

Birds calling and calling across the river to each other. Sound like bells on the old-fashioned switch engines flying around railway stations.

Some of Parthenia's talk: "Oh, brother!" "Great day in the mawnin!" "Ah'm so full Ah'm lak to bust up." "Ah was so full o' gas las' nite, it was pitiful." "Ah don't mess with Hants! No sir!" "Ah don't lak..." "It worries me down." "No hant needs to come back and ask me 'bout no birds cause Ah wouldn't stay long enuff to tell ya." "Ole' man rivah, he gittin' full again." Don't mess with nobody's hants. At World's Fair in Seattle a man was pulling an old buggy with a couple riding in it. "He wouldn't git far if Ah was pullin' him!" Parthenia had "Arthuritis." Mary asked Parthenia to watch her dolls while she was out playing. Parthenia said, "Ah'd knock 'em in the haid!"

"She goin' hant me to death!" "Scratch mah brain out." "Cain't find head and tail to nothin'." "Wisht Ah had some Pea Nuts!" "This plant's a fixin' to bloom!" "Ah knew a man who had to hold his teeth in with his orbicularis oris!" "Ah'm not about to and Ah was a fixin' to!" "Oh Ah'm hurtin', Ah'm hurtin!" Groan, groan, groan.

Some Wild River Characters at Bluffton, Iowa

"Doc" Green

Johnny Green lived far back in the hills in the Wild River country at Bluffton, Iowa. How he came by the nickname of "Doc" Green is an unbelievable story. He was left to sit up all night with a sick man not expected to live until morning. The doctor left several kinds of medicine to be given at different times in the night. Johnny poured all the medicine into a teacup and gave it to the man to drink. Johnny had a good night's sleep and in the morning the man was well. After this Johnny was called "Doc" Green and became quite a celebrity through all the Wild River country.

Ed Jackson and his Pet Wolf

Wolves once roamed the Wild River country for miles around Bluffton and Burr Oak. Ed Jackson, hunter and trapper of Bluffton, caught and tamed a baby wolf. Mostly he kept it chained in the yard beside his house. But occasionally he let it loose to follow him along the river bank. It was an interesting sight to see the wolf following at his heels, its sharp nose pointing to the ground. The walls of rock along the river today have a bare, lonesome look for the packs of wolves and other wildlife that one time roamed the country.

I wrote two poems in my life:

No. 1
There's nothing like mosquito music
In the middle of the night
When you always lie and wonder
Where exactly it will bite!


No. 2
Given a will like a laser light
And a genius for muddling thro'
There's nothing, no, nothing
By day or night
That man may not manage to do.

Bill Leaves for College - 1968

Getting ready to take Bill to college. Big black dog with white-tipped tail and white nose waiting outside kitchen door. When Bill comes out she sticks out her nose expecting him to give her a morsel to eat.

Art has car by gate and is loading it with student lamp and other paraphernalia.

Bill getting so tall and has beautiful, rich brown wavy hair. (Had pretty yellow curls when a baby).

The dog follows Bill to the car, wagging her tail and so full of happiness. He reaches down and pets her head goodbye, then gets into car and it rolls away. The dog sits down on her haunches and remains still and quiet for a long time. In the house there is a bouquet of wild flowers on the dining room table Bill had gathered. Soon they will fade and die. I feel so weepy but I would feel worse if he got no education. It would mean years of poverty and sorrow and trouble for him.


Bill gone to college again - (Junior year). I miss him in many different ways. For instance, I have a music box in which I keep jewelry. When Bill is around I keep it wound up so that it plays a gay tune while I get out my jewelry. When he is gone I don't bother to keep it wound up. So the other day I opened the box to get my jewelry. It was still for some time, then all of a sudden it started to play - but no Bill - It made me feel so lonesome -

Living Memories

1. Little old log house we lived in in Wisconsin - covered with boards outside.

2. Weeping tree bending over the gate when Phil stumbled through starting for School for blind - age 15.

3. Saw Oscar Thompson coming down the street with Bible in his hands open at Malachi 4 "For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven..." (Heaven and earth shall pass away). He wanted my father to kneel with him and pray and he gave himself to God - converted.

4. Listening forenoons to prairie chickens Boom! Boom! Boom! Standing in door of farm house looking at prairie - far as I could see - flat land.

5. Getting lost in prairie at age 2 and crying self to sleep. Woke up full of courage and started hunting in earnest and went into cornfield because sun so hot. Found Aunt and Uncle in a vacant space in cornfield. Terrible look in Aunt's face as she looked up into Uncle's face. I was not punished for running away. Carried home in loving arms.

6. Visits to farm houses and big dinners. One home a girl soon to be married made a luscious raspberry shortcake for the dinner. Every spare minute she would run and sit on her fiance's lap with her arms around his neck. Another farm house dinner they had chased out all the flies on Saturday. But their retarded girl had gone upstairs and let them all back in. She said, "So we could chase them out again!" So when we arrived Sunday the lady of the house apologized and the flies were so thick every square inch of space in the air was full of them.

[Editor's note: A variant version of the above story reads as follows:

"When grandma was a little girl she went to visit her aunt and uncle on a farm near Radcliffe, Iowa. While she was there they were invited to a Sunday dinner at a farm home. This was a pioneer get-together for this was in the horse and buggy days when there were no cars, telephones, movies, airplanes, radios or TV’s. People visited together more than now. The way those farm women could cook wild prairie chickens and make strawberry shortcake with wild strawberries left a golden memory with grandma that she has carried with her for a lifetime. This happened to be in the days before insecticides like flit were discovered. When the great day arrived for the Sunday dinner the hostess met us at the door with a long face. The previous day she and her daughters had worked for hours to get rid of the flies. But when she went upstairs toward evening she found her mentally deficient daughter with windows wide open letting in flies by the million. The girl explained that she wanted to let in more flies so they could kill them too. Every cubic inch of air in that house contained at least four flies. I gazed at them in wonder and awe and counted cubic inches of flies until I was dizzy."]

7. At age of four I was returned reluctantly to my parents. No more tender love! An unwanted child. My father now a doctor and surgeon. Horse and buggy doctor.

8. Country school and sing "Dan Scatter Seeds of Kindness."

Prov. 3:5

One summer day when I was a girl 13 years of age, I went to the outskirts of the village where we lived to practice on the church organ. I opened a window so that I might enjoy the warm summer air. With my bare feet I started pumping the pedals of the old-fashioned organ but a huge bumblebee flew through the open window and started buzzing in a circle around my bare feet.

For safety's sake I went to the pulpit and sat down in the chair usually occupied by my father who was pastor of the church. From a shelf in the back of the lectern some unused Sunday School papers dangled. I started reading one until the danger from the bumblebee was past.

The Sunday School paper that I had taken from the lectern had an article in it written by a girl of about my own age. It told of having had a most unusual experience.

She had a sick friend whom she felt deeply impressed that she should go to see and tell her that she was going to die. She went to see the sick girl and spent the entire afternoon with her. In the article the girl said, "I have always been thankful that I was faithful and told the girl that she was to die. What a happy memory I have of the afternoon we spent together talking and praying. In a few days the girl passed away."

As I finished reading the article, a voice loud and clear spoke to me from the back of the church. "Allie," it said, "you must tell Ozro!"

I looked in the direction of the voice which still echoed in the air but could see nothing.

Ozro Hutchens was going to die!! He was a 17 year old schoolmate, who never missed a day of school, or a social affair, or had a day of sickness. Yet I must tell him that he was going to die! I in my human blindness couldn't see anything wrong with him!!

At every chance I studied him carefully for paleness or wasting away and I silently asked within myself, "Why are you going to die?" My courage failed me and I could never get myself to warn him.

In two months' time after this warning Ozro went upstairs one morning and called for his mother. She found his lifeless body on the bed. He had died without warning!

Many times I have remembered the girl's story in the Sunday School paper and wished that I had been as faithful as she. It taught me to "Trust on the Lord with all thy might and lean not unto thine own understanding."

My father was a doctor and when I was young I had suffered a cold that left me with a bad cough. One day, my father stood beside my bed and watched me go through a severe paroxysm of coughing. He said, "There is only one way to stop this cough - get control of it yourself." He was a doctor of years standing and to my astonishment he did not offer to give me the usual cough syrup. In getting control of that cough I learned a lesson that lasted a lifetime.

I learned that I could start an ache or pain in any part of my body. I could build up a pain, or I could minimize it. People who want to be sick can achieve their ambition. Dr. Charles Mayo said that every second bed in hospitals all over the U. S. is occupied by a mental case.

One such patient was Swain Johnson. He had waited three long hours to see my father. When he came at last he said, "Swain, you have Nim Puck in the Runnet," meaning that his sickness was imaginary. This made Swain so angry that he rose from his chair, turned pale with rage and went home. His sickness was never heard from again.

There are many Swain Johnsons. One case in point was a playmate who always wanted to play invalid and have all her girl friends waiting on her. She did not improve with age and the last time I saw her she was a grown woman married to a popular young minister lying languidly in a wheelchair with her hostess busily waiting on her and explaining to me that Eva was an invalid. I knew Eva. How many times I had seen her play invalid while we all waited on her.

One woman who died at the age of 63 said on her deathbed, "I'd be a well woman today if I hadn't sapped my vitality with useless regrets!" With our thoughts we can build up our health or destroy it.

Like Pilgrim in Pilgrim's Progress, the woman who died early carried a burden on her back that kept her in a life of misery and took her to an untimely death.

Religion plays a large part in health. We need to learn that the Bible is our best Doctor Book. Isaiah 40:31 - They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.

The part that Christianity plays in building up a healthy body is not to be overlooked. Young and old need the backing and resources of religion. Children should learn to pray early.

Before we could comprehend the implications of the book, our mother read to us every Sunday afternoon from Pilgrim's Progress. Pilgrim was carrying a load on his back from which he could not rid himself. Poor Pilgrim! What situations he found himself in. Who could forget the Slough of Despond? The pack is on our backs. We are bound to our sins and failures, ruining our health and happiness. Our mother taught us too that we were not to live alway and that we would surely die. She taught us to prepare for the world to come. Thus religion was woven in with health and happiness.

Remedy for Sickness

When I was seventeen years old I had a bad cough. I was losing weight and coughing hard every day. One day my father, Dr. Philip Slack, said to me, "Now there is no doctor or medicine in the world that can cure you. You have got to take care of this cough yourself." I felt lost if I could not look to the medical world for help. It threw me onto my own resources. So every time a spasm of coughing took me I suppressed it. I had to give up looking to the doctors or medicine for help. I had to look within myself for help and no other place.

So every time I felt a coughing spell coming I suppressed it and in a short time I was completely cured. I had learned an invaluable lesson. I had learned Mental Control. I am in hopes that some young person may read this article and start practicing Mental Control early in life.

I felt like the TV commercial where the lady says, "When you've got your health, you've got just about everything."

It is my private opinion that if doctors were asked to admit the truth, they would confess that half their patients want to be sick. They look to the world of medicine for help instead of looking inside themselves.

Dr. Philip and Mary Slack, parents of Alice Slack Krumm

My father was a horse and buggy doctor. That name doesn't quite fit because he had a team of sorrels that looked so nearly alike, etc.

Every once in a while I meet people who tell me that my father vaccinated them for smallpox. One man said that the scab on his arm fell onto the ground and the dog ate it up. I told this recently to a lady and she said, "What happened to the dog?" Another lady told me that my father pulled her first tooth. He pulled teeth - he did not extract them. He sat them down in a chair and called some member of the family to clasp the patient's head between the ears while he pulled their tooth. My mother usually put a shawl over her head and ran out the kitchen door and disappeared until the tooth was pulled. He had two kinds of forceps for tooth-pulling. One kind was for the limit; the other kind for lesser teeth.

My father was on call night or day. We had a doorbell on the front door with a little wooden handle to pull down. This would make a sharp ring that could be heard all over the house.

One winter night there was a bad storm and I felt rather smug. I said, "Nobody will ring that doorbell in such a storm as this." But at nine o'clock sharp the doorbell rang. We opened the door and there stood a little snowman about ten years old. He held his head back so that he could see. The snow storm had almost blinded him. He had ridden eight miles from a farm home to get the doctor for his baby brother two years old. His parents had gone on a trip to be gone two days and left the two-year-old in the care of this ten-year-old and his sister. The baby had the croup, and this boy had ridden eight miles on horseback to get the doctor. My father was on a call, and the boy sat waiting until midnight. As long as I live I can still see that silent figure sitting, waiting for the doctor. He would not unbutton his overcoat or remove the cap pulled down over his ears. It was desperate. As the evening wore on and it became time for we three children to go to bed. Bedtime was great fun for us. Our ma could cut out any animal we asked for and it would look almost alive. I always went to bed with my arms full of lions and tigers and giraffes and whatever else I had asked for.

This particular night that the farm boy had ridden eight miles in the storm to get the doctor, he sat in a corner of the room waiting for the doctor to come. He sat very still and watched our mother cutting animals out of many thicknesses of newspaper. While he sat there waiting the baby died of croup. If only the little sister had known that little feet in hot water is the best medicine for croup! But she didn't know it. So the winter storm must have swept 'round the house and shrieked like demons around the windows. This is sad, because there is a little grave down there in Hardin county where we lived. The grass has grown tall over the little grave and the baby has long been forgotten but not by me. I have a sad memory of a ten-year-old boy riding horseback in the terrible storm and of a mother and father coming home to find a dead baby. There were no telephones in that day, i.e., they were not common property. They were invented in 1876 by Thomas Edison.

A lady said to me recently, "You must know a lot, your dad being a doctor." Of course that isn't true, but a doctor's family certainly sees more sorrow than families of other men.

There is one more incident. My father was called out on a dark night, driving in darkness so black he couldn't see his hand before his face. It was spring when the rivers and streams overflow their banks. Billy Boys stopped and my father tried to urge them on but they refused to go. He got out of the buggy and walked around to their heads. They were on the banks of an overflowing stream. They had gotten off the main road and were off the bridge with feet planted on the bank. He backed them up until he had them on the road again and led them safely over the bridge.

Laura Ingalls Wilder has written a book which is to be accepted as history of the Midwest. I wonder if she mentioned the horse and buggy doctors of the 1800's. If she doesn't mention them, there are a few pages missing in her book that belong there.

Laura Ingalls Wilder writes books based on her memories. The rest of us have memories too, but they don't get into print. Following are two of my memories which have never appeared into print.

My father, Dr. Philip Slack, was called to see a sick boy. He asked the boy to open his mouth and show him his tongue. The boy was bewildered until his mother stepped up to the bed and said, "Open your Gob and shove out yer Lollicker." The boy then opened his Gob and shoved out his Lollicker; but he had never heard of a mouth and tongue.

Another memory is of a man named Swain Johnson. He would come to our house and sit for hours waiting to see the doctor. One night my father came home weary from a day's work. As usual he found Swain sitting in a chair waiting to see him. When he saw Swain, he said, "Oh, Swain! You've got the Nim-puck-in-the-Runnet!" Swain was so angry he rose from his chair white with rage. But this cured him. He was never sick again that I ever heard of.

Chuckles from Green Lea Manor

1. One lady in her 80's put on her stockings when she got up. Then she began to hunt for them. She knew that she had hanged them on the back of a chair when she retired. She pointed to the exact chair and said she could not comprehend how they could disappear. After hunting for them for some time she suddenly stopped and said, "Haw haw! I've got them on!"

2. This same lady bought a bottle of Seven-up and went down the hallway waving the bottle and hollering "Whoopee!"

3. The nurses told Alice Krumm that her initials A.K. meant Air mail kiss. Alice remarked that a kiss sent by Air mail would lose its zip before it got there.

When I was a child about ten years of age, our family lived in a Haunted House in Wisconsin. One hot summer night my mother, brother, and sister decided to sleep on some bed springs out on the lawn.

The ghosts, there must have been two of them, walked around the lawn in the darkness. One night, one ghost stumbled on the bed springs and made a noise.

This made Goose Pimples come out on my mother. Now a Goose Pimple is what you get when you are scared. Folks always have Goose Pimples when ghosts are around enough and they are really scared.

There is no known remedy for a Goose Pimple.

The funny thing is that a goose was never known to have a pimple. There are different kinds of geese of course.

The next thing that ghost did was to take my youngest sister by the throat. It scared her so badly she could scarcely describe that awful moment. This house had been haunted for some time and nobody in the community would live there. At that time my father came around looking for a place for our family to live. This Haunted House just suited my dad. It was a large white house facing east. It was called the Cook House because a family named Cook owned it. They lived in Chicago in order to get as far away as possible.

Introduction | Quotes and Notes | Letters | Newspaper Articles  | Unfinished Stories | Miscellaneous Notes

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Gleanings of a Lifetime, by Alice Krumm (1879-1987)
Copyright 1998 by Bill Price
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