GROWING UP IN IOWA by Ken Woody

The following is a collection of various works by Ken Woody.

 

This is a story of a six-year-old boy who loved his grandparents and the town they lived in. The year is 1930; the country was deep into an economic depression. Money was scarce, food in short supply and U. S. unemployment reached four million. The average income was $1,858.00 and you could buy a new Model “T” Ford Coupe for $520. You could buy a new house if you had $1,796, a loaf of bread cost 5 cents, a gallon of gas was 10 cents and a gallon of milk 50 cents. Herbert Hoover was president and your life expectancy was 59.7 years.

 

People made do with what they had and they shared with their neighbor. The grocery store carried very little produce, most people had a garden. No one locked their doors and you could walk across your neighbors yard to talk to the people that just moved in two houses over, there were no security fences.

 

The people were easily entertained; it was a simpler life then. Women had Sewing and Quilting Bee’s and Bake off’s. The men, well, there was always a Horseshoe Pit somewhere in the neighborhood, or they were puttering around the house to make it a better place to live. The Children played tag, king of the hill, built tree houses, went on hay and sleigh rides and went skating on nearby ponds. People cared about people then. This was what life was like for my grandparents and me.

 

I hope you enjoy Tom and Rose and the town of Wick as much as I did.

 

—-

 

 

Some say the past is dead

But winters hold the seed

and what they saw

Will live and grow

Again in those that read

 

—-

 

Sixinwick

 

The Hills of Southern Iowa

 

It’s Friday, Dad is on his way home from work and I am setting on the cement steps in front of the house looking up Cornell Hill to see if he is coming. On Friday’s Dad always had candy in his lunch bucket and I had heard Mom say, earlier in the day, we were going to Grandmas this evening, so I was real excited when I saw Dad coming down the hill. I was just opening a package of orange slices when Mom called me to come into the house and told me to get ready.

 

Dad was backing the car out of the garage, a 1925 Model T Ford. Mom was busy putting a bolt of flowered broadcloth and a sack of hollyhock seeds into the trunk for Grandma. Dad told me to get the newspapers, Grandpa always wanted to know what was going on in the big city of Des Moines. Would you like to go with us and see T. G. and Rose Severs and my favorite little town? You would, well climb in, you have to step real high to reach the running board, You can sit next to the window, that orange glass thing beside the window is a flower vase. I’ve never seen Mom put any flowers in it.

 

Let me explain who T. G. and Rose Severs are, they are my Grandpa and Grandma and they live in the town of Wick, Iowa. I always called Rose Grandma and T.G. was always called Tom, he was Tom to everybody. Tom’s parents came from Scotland and Grandma’s family, the Blake’s, originated in England. Both families came to America in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, then migrated from the Carolinas, to Pennsylvania, to Ohio, then on to Iowa.

 

The route that we are taking is one that I have taken many times, down Cornell Hill to the Marathon Gas Station on Arthur Street. Dad had the car filled with gas, I got to pump the gas up into the ten gallon globe overhead. After checking the oil, water and washing the windshield, we were on our way down Arthur Street to Second Avenue. Second Avenue is a main North and South street that crosses the Des Moines River and leads to downtown Des Moines. Yesterday was Halloween and the department stores still had their windows decorated for the holiday. We turn up Walnut Street to the 7th Street viaduct and over the railroad tracks. At the southern end of the viaduct is Tuttle Street, if you go west on Tuttle Street four blocks you come to Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company, That’s where my dad works. On the corner of 7th and Tuttle is the Sutherland Lumber Company. I always go there with Dad when he needs lumber.

 

We now cross the Raccoon River Bridge and turn onto Southwest 9th going past Mcray Park and Lincoln High School. At Army Post Road we turn west toward the airport, the end of the runway is right next to the road. Here comes an airplane now, it looks like it’s going to hit the car, boy that was close! Mom and Dad are laughing at me but I was scared. The engines were so loud. As we drove along I kept looking back at the different sizes and shapes of the airplanes. My Dad was an airplane mechanic in The War, so we talk a lot about airplanes.

 

At the Cumming corner (a small community) we turn onto Highway 28 and are now in the rolling hills of Southern Iowa. I ask Mom about the different colors of leaves on the trees and bushes and why they change from green. She said that was the way God had planned things. I asked her what the red tree in the center of that field was and she said it was a Red Maple. Then I saw some yellow bushes and then some red bushes, Mom said they were Goldenrod and Sumac. The hills were a blaze of color and I tried to count the different colors. Mom said that the trees in the creek bed were mostly Cottonwood but the trees on the hills were hard wood, like Maple, Oak, Ash and Walnut. I asked Mom if we could go walnut hunting this weekend and she said maybe, if would shuck them when we got home, They stain your hands brown and it takes a long time to wear off but Black Walnut Fudge is worth it.

 

Over the next hill I could see the water tower for the town of Norwalk. As we drove through the town we could see the results of the Halloween pranksters everywhere. There were busted pumpkins along the road and a privy had been pushed over but the funniest one was on top of the municipal building. Mom said, “What is that?” Dad looked and said it was a manure spreader, and sure enough there sat a manure spreader on top of the building.

 

It is corn-picking time and the farmers are riding their horse drawn corn pickers. Around the bend a farmer is putting his picked corn into a crib. He was shoveling it. That sure looked like hard work. Dad said the farmer would use that corn to feed his cows this winter. Over the next hill and close to the fence were ten black and white cows, Mom said they were Holsteins. They were walking slowly toward the barn. I heard Dad say it was milking time. I asked what does that farmer do with all that milk? Dad said that the farmer puts it in cans and takes it to the depot, then Grandpa puts it on the train, the train takes it to Des Moines, the dairy picks it up at the train depot. And the dairy is where we get our milk.

 

Down the road and across a creek there was a terrible smell. I said, “What is that?” and began to roll up the window. Mom and Dad started laughing at me again. That’s a hog lot and the farmer raises hogs for market they told me. “I’m glad that bacon and ham don’t smell like that”, I said, and every one started laughing again. It wasn’t long before I noticed another odor in the air, it had a sweet pungent fragrance and sure enough as we turned the corner there was a farmer mowing his hay. Dad said it was the last cutting of hay for the year. He said that they usually get three.

 

Dad thought that the right front tire was a little low and said we were going to stop in Prole and check it out. Every one got out and had a drink of water from the well by the filling station. Dad said that the tire was low. He filled it with air and said it would be OK. Back in the car and on the road again, Dad turned on the headlights, the sun had gone down and it was starting to get dark. You could see the kerosene lanterns flickering as the farmers finished their chores for the day and the smoke curling in the air from wood burning cook stoves. I was getting hungry and Wick was not very far away.

 

We left highway 28 and onto the county gravel road that took us across Middle River. There was a large wooded area just before you get to the river. Mom said that is where the Wick Picnic is held every year. I asked her if we could go this year, “We’ll see”, she said.

 

Dad said it wouldn’t be long now as we turned off the county road and down the road to the town of Wick. From the top of the hill I could see the store and the church. It was 7:00 PM when Dad pulled up to the gate and shut the engine off. This is where my Grandpa and Grandma live.

 

—-

 

The Sever Place

 

Look! Mom-Dad they see us! Here comes Grandma and Tom now. “Grandma, this is my friend. I want to show him where you live and to show him the fun things we can do”. “Well bring him in the house,” Grandma said, “Supper is almost ready.” I grabbed the sack of hollyhock seeds and mother brought the bolt of broadcloth, Grandma was so happy to get the broadcloth.

 

I could hear the phone ringing, Tom answered it. The crank phone hangs on the wall just inside the back door; their phone number is two longs and a short. You have to crank it to get it to ring. On a stand, by the phone is a porcelain bucket of drinking water, with a drinking dipper in it. Beside the bucket is a washbasin with a washcloth and towel hanging above. In the center of the kitchen is large round oak table with four high back chairs. Grandma said she would have to get a couple of apple crates for us kids to sit on. Mom was setting the table while Grandma was getting the biscuits out of the oven. Grandma cooks on a wood-burning stove.

 

Dad and Tom were sitting in the parlor. Dad was smoking his cigar and bringing Tom up to date with all of the news. Mom told me to hurry up and wash, supper was ready. We all sat down to a great meal, Grandma must have worked on it all day. We had roast beef, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, homemade biscuits, hot out of the oven, and a piece of hot apple pie. After supper I went outdoors to catch lightning bugs. Grandma had given me a jar to put them in. I had about twenty when Mom called me to come in. It was time to go to bed.

 

Mom took the kerosene lamp into the bedroom so we could get ready for bed. The mattress was about eighteen inches thick.. It was a straw tick that had been freshly filled. I took a big leap and landed in the middle of it. It was so much fun that I did it again and again until Mom made me stop. As Mom grabbed the lamp to leave the room, she said if I have to go during the night that there was a pot under the bed. I didn’t like the sound of that; porcelain gets cold during the night.

 

Early next morning Grandma was moving around in the kitchen and it wasn’t long before I could smell fresh side pork frying. It was time to get up. I washed and brushed my teeth and sat down to a breakfast of eggs, fresh side pork, pancakes and milk. I asked Grandma where Dad and Tom were. She said they were out building a fire under the cattle watering tank. I asked what they were going to do. Grandma said they were butchering a hog today. I said, “Wow! Can I go and watch?” Mom hollered from the parlor, “No, not until they kill the pig. Then you can go and watch, but you have to stay back out of their way”. It wasn’t long before I heard a shot from Tom’s 4-10 shotgun. I knew the pig must be dead but I had to wait until Dad and Tom had removed its insides.

 

Then we all went outside, Tom had tied a rope around the pig’s hind legs, so we all pulled on the rope to drag the pig up to the boiling water in the stock tank. Tom had fastened a block and tackle onto one of the big branches of the apple tree. Once the rope was through the block and tackle, we all pulled on the rope and hoisted the pig up and then dropped him in the boiling water. I asked mom if they were going to cook him? She said they were going to scald him in the boiling water, then they would pull him out and put the pig on the table over there. “Then what are they going to do”? I asked. Tom said, “We are going to scrape all the bristles off of him”. Dad said, “We’re going to cut him up into little pieces”.

 

They cut the hams, shoulders and the two pieces of fresh side meat and set them on the end of the table. Mom and Grandma started rubbing salt all over them. I asked why they were doing that, and Mom said it kept the meat from spoiling. Grandma wrapped each piece in a clean flour sack and Mom took them down into the cave and put them on a shelf. There were all kinds of good things in the cave, potatoes, cabbages, beets, squash, two crock jars of pickles. Tom split the backbone of the pig and made two pork loins, he said they would use those up right away. Grandma took the head and scrap meat and made headcheese and mincemeat out of it.

 

I said to Mom, “I’m getting hungry.” She said, “We will have lunch as soon as we get cleaned up”. Mom made some sandwiches and Tom brought in a watermelon from the garden. When it was cut open it was yellow inside, I asked what was wrong with it. Tom laughed and said that it was a yellow meat melon, then gave me a piece. It was as sweet as sugar. After lunch Mom and Grandma were going to the garden to pick beans. Mom asked me if I wanted to help pick. Grandma said I could pick a dozen ears of sweet corn, for supper. The garden had everything, beans, peas, corn, peppers, cabbage, beets and a watermelon patch. The patch was hidden down by the path to the privy, next to the grapevines, so the Maxwell kids would not steal from them.

 

Tom had built a two hol’er and when you sat in there you had to fight off the yellow jackets. The toilet paper was the Montgomery Ward or Sears and Roebuck catalog, and somebody had used all the soft pages. All that was left were the hard glossy pages–Oh well. The garden was Grandma’s but the orchard was Tom’s. He had three Jonathan apple trees, two pear and two peach. We picked two bushels of apples, one that we put in the cave and the other Dad put in the car to take back home. In the storeroom the shelves were lined with jars of canned peaches, pears, apples, beans, peas, beets, pickle relish and my favorite watermelon pickles. Hanging from the ceiling was a bag of onions and two-dozen ears of popcorn. Over in the corner was a crockery jar where Tom made his wine, beside it a rack with several bottles of wine. I asked Mom if I could have some wine, she said, in a voice louder than usual, –“NO, Come with me”

 

— back in the house, the parlor had a fascinating musical instrument. It is a pump organ and it sets over in the northwest corner. I had to spin the organ seat down so I could reach the pedals. I pumped the pedals with my feet and ran my fingers up and down the keys. I pulled and pushed the different stops and made grand and glorious music until Mom and Dad couldn’t stand it anymore.

 

Tom and Dad were sitting around the potbelly stove, it was a chilly fall evening and Tom had built a fire. Against the wall and next to the stove was Tom’s desk where he kept his books and records for his blacksmith business. Across the room was a tapestry-upholstered sofa that sat under two large gold-framed portraits of the Blake’s, Grandmas parents.

 

—-

 

Railway Express Agent

 

It was 5 PM and the Doodle Bug, a Burlington Northern decal train that ran from Des Moines to Osceola, was due in at 5:15. Tom is the depot agent. Dad and Tom were going out the door when I asked if I could go too. Tom said we could come along and help pull the empty milk cans off. We cut across the churchyard; the depot was just west of the church and across the road to the north from the store. There was a mailbag setting next to the door . The Maynards had brought it over from the store. The Wick Post Office is in the Maynard Store. Tom unlocked the depot door and told me to drag the bag out onto the dock.

 

I stood on the dock looking up the track hoping to hear or see engine 49, the Doodle Bug, coming. It wasn’t long before I heard it rumbling down the track, then it came in sight around a grove of cottonwoods. It made a screeching stop right at the dock. The engineer slid the car door open and the conductor started pushing the milk cans out onto the dock, Tom, Dad, my friend and I started pulling the cans back in the corner of the depot.

 

The conductor started throwing packages to Tom as he stacked them on the side of the dock. People would be coming to get them as soon as the train left town and Tom had time to sort them out. There were packages for the Duncan’s, the Campbell’s, the Nuzum’s and the Lee’s. They were from such places as Montgomery Wards, Sears and Roebuck, J. C. Penney and McCormick Deering. There was a big barrel of pickles from the Zingler Pickle Company in Des Moines. They were for the Maynard store.

 

The last thing the conductor threw out was a mailbag. Tom gave the bag from the Maynard store a toss into the baggage car. Tom and the conductor waved goodbye as the engineer gave two blasts from the Doodle Bug’s horn.

 

People started coming to pick up their packages. The Maynards came with a two-wheeler to get their barrel of pickles and pick up the mail. Mister Lee drove his horse drawn wagon up to the dock to pick up his new plow blade from McCormick Deering. Mrs. Duncan came with the girls. She told Tom she had bought new shoes for the girls to start school. Then came Katherine Campbell and she was real excited. She opened her package right there in the depot. It was a new winter coat. The only package left was the one for Charles Nuzum, Tom said he would drop it off on our way home.

 

Tom closed the doors to the dock and straightened the office up. He made things ready far the Doodle Bug when it comes through tomorrow morning on its way to Des Moines. I asked if I could come with him in the morning, he said I could but I would have to stay back off the dock because there would be lots of heavy milk cans.

 

It was a cool and crisp fall morning. As we walked across the churchyard I heard a long wailing whistle from a locomotive. It sounded like it was coming through Wick. Grandpa said it was the Great Western going through Martinsdale. He said that train was going to Omaha loaded with hogs, cattle, and grain.

 

The Doodle Bug was due in Wick about 9:45 AM. The farmers were starting to come in with their wagons of cream cans full of milk. For every can they left on the dock they took an empty one back home. Looking to the south I could see the Bug coming. As it whistled to a stop, Mister Maynard came running with a bag of mail for Des Moines and points beyond. Tom said that most of the farmers around Wick have a contract with the Anderson Dairy in Des Moines. With everything loaded on the train the conductor threw Tom a small mailbag and waved good by. Two blasts on the horn and the Doodle Bug was soon out of sight around the cottonwood grove. We took the mail over to the store. Grandpa bought a plug of tobacco, Spark Plug brand; he sure liked his chewing tobacco.

 

—-

 

he Maynard Grocery Store and Post Office

 

Mrs. Maynard was wrapping a piece of slab bacon for Mrs. Lee as we came through the door. Tom took the mailbag back to the Post Office, which is located in the back of the store. Mrs. Maynard said she would sort out the mail as soon as she finished with Mrs. Lee. Tom and Dad sat down by Mister Tilletson, who had been reading the Des Moines Register. There were several chairs around the large potbelly stove. Mister Tilletson put down his paper and the men started talking about hard times and the weather. Dad lit up a 5 cent King Edward cigar, Tom took a chew from his Spark Plug and Mister Tilletson put a couple of logs on the fire.

 

I was looking over the candy selection; trying to pick out something I could coax Dad or Tom into buying for me. Tom said “No, I think Grandma has a surprise when we get home”. I kept wondering what it could be as I wandered around the store looking at the sacks of flour, corn meal, salt and chicken feed sitting on the floor.

 

I went back to the Post Office; Mrs. Maynard was sorting the mail. She was putting pieces of mail into slots that had people’s names on them. I started to leave when she handed me three pieces of mail and told me to give it to Tom. Tom said, “Grandma will be happy, there’s a letter from her sister”. Mister Tilletson had just finished telling how good the crops were this year when Tom said that we better go home.

 

Mom and Grandma were washing cloths in the back yard when we came home. They had three tubs on a bench, the first one was the washtub the other two were first and second rinse. I started to pick up the soap when Mom said to leave it alone, that it was lye soap. Grandma makes her own laundry soap.

 

Mom said “Go in the kitchen, I think Grandma has a surprise”. I ran into the house and there on the kitchen table was a large platter of black walnut fudge. Grandma said for me to take a piece and that she was going to send some home with me.

 

—-

 

Tom’s Blacksmith Shop

 

It was Sunday morning and I wanted to go over to Tom’s shop and get some horseshoes to take back home. After breakfast we walked over to the shop. Tom unlocked the padlock and slid the big door open. Inside there was the large forge where Tom heated iron until it was red hot, then, while holding it with tongs, he would lay it on the anvil and hammer it into a horseshoe or something else. He could make the fire in the forge real hot by pumping the bellows and forcing air into the hot coals.

 

Tom gave me and my friend each two horseshoes, they didn’t match, but we didn’t care. When I get home I am going to make a horseshoe pit in the back yard. It was fun rummaging around the shop, looking at all the neat things that Tom had made. Tom said if I would come and stay a week, I could help him in the shop, pumping the bellows. I asked Dad if I could and he said that he would have to talk it over with Don. That is what he always called Mom.

 

Tom’s shop had two sections, and in the other section is where he kept his Model “T” Ford, just like Dad’s. Tom slid the door open and we pushed it out in front of the shop. We wiped the dust off and polished it so it would look nice when the people came to church.

 

Now it was time to go and ring the church bell. I asked Tom If I could ring the bell, he said, “We’ll see”.

 

—-

 

The Methodist Church

 

Tom said that it was almost nine thirty and we have to go and ring the church bell for the ten o’clock service. We walked across the road to the church and Tom unlocked the church door. Above the vestibule was the bell tower. Tom took the rope from the hook on the wall and started pulling on it. The sound of the bell could be heard a mile away. I asked Tom if I could ring the bell, he picked me up and I rang the bell until my arms got tired.

 

We went back home to get ready for church. Mom said I had to change clothes. Every one was putting on their Sunday best. Mom was busy in the kitchen putting potatoes onto boil, while Grandma put a pan of peach cobbler in the oven. Then we all went over to the church.

 

As we went through the vestibule I told Mom that I got to ring the bell, she said she heard. We went in and sat down in the third pew from the front on the left. The pews were made of oak and not very comfortable, The pulpit was in the center of the stage, the pump organ was to the right of the pulpit, The organ was larger then Grandmas and the music was prettier than when I played.

 

I didn’t understand much of what the preacher was talking about, as I was too busy staring out the west window. I could see the depot and was thinking about the Doodle Bug and wondering when it would be coming again. Then I looked out the east window, I could see Tom’s house and thought about the peach cobbler Grandma had put in the oven. Mom nudged me to stand up, were going to sing a song.

 

When the service was over everyone left the church stopping to shake the preachers hand. Mom and Grandma rushed home to fix dinner. Dad and Tom stood around outside talking to Mister Lee and Mister Tillitson. Mister Tillitson told Tom that there were a lot of walnuts this year and that he could come and help himself to what he wanted. Tom said maybe we would come this afternoon. Then I heard people say how nice Tom’s Model T looked. I told them I helped polish it.

 

Dad said we better get home. He thought Grandma and Mom must have dinner ready. As we were coming in the house Mom was mashing the potatoes. She told Dad if we hadn’t come when we did, she and Grandma were going to eat without us. We had fried chicken, mashed potatoes with chicken gravy, peas, homemade bread with home churned butter and peach cobbler

 

—-

 

The Tillitson Farm

 

We had just finished dinner when Tom told me to go out in the storage room and get a couple of gunnysacks. Dad said we were going down to the Tilletson farm and gather walnuts. Mom hollered at Dad and said, “Don’t you guys get in too big of a hurry Grandma and I want to go along. We’ll soon be done with the dishes”. Tom, Dad, Mom, Grandma, and my friend started walking down the road. It was a half-mile walk past the Lee farm. The weather had turned nice. As we walked down the road we threw rocks at the fence posts, I didn’t hit very many.

 

We could hear the Guinea hens before we got to the farm and in the barnyard there was a flock of geese. Mister Tillitson was harnessing up a team of horses, he said he had to get the corn out of the field before the weather changed. Mister Lee came with a team and wagon to give him a helping hand. There was already a big pile of corn in the barnyard ready to be shelled. Mister Tillitson told us to go on down to the timber, to be sure to close the gates and not to go in the bull pasture, he said it was a mean one.

 

It was a thick hard wood timber with Oak, Maple, Ash, Butternut and Walnut trees everywhere. There were all kinds of bushes, most of them had stickers. Mom hollered, “I found some Wild Raspberries”, so Mom and Grandma stayed behind and picked Wild Raspberries. The rest of us went on looking for walnuts. I heard Tom say “over here” and there they were, greenish yellow balls a little smaller than a tennis ball, and they were everywhere. It didn’t take long to fill the two gunnysacks. Dad carried one and Tom carried the other, they were too heavy for me to carry.

 

Here come Mom and Grandma, and they had picked a half a peck sack of Wild Raspberries. They were glad we had found the walnuts. As we walked through the woods I was kicking the toadstools and stepping on puffballs. When you step on a puffball a big black cloud of smoke comes out of them. Grandma said. “Stop, look here there’s three bushes of Wild Gooseberries.” Everyone started picking and it wasn’t long before we had a peck sack full. I carried the Wild Raspberries and Mom carried the Wild Gooseberries, Tom and Dad carried the walnuts as we worked our way toward the railroad track.

 

As we walked down the track I was balancing myself on one of the rails. Mom said be careful don’t spill the berries. I wanted to put a penny on the track but Dad wouldn’t let me. On the hill to the west I could see Mister Tillitson and Mister Lee bring in this years corn crop and up ahead I could see the Maynard store. We were just about to Tom’s house; it had been a real fun day.

 

Dad said it was time to load the car and get ready to go home. Grandma split the berries in two piles and gave Mom one pile. Dad put one of the sacks of walnuts in the trunk. Tom went out to the garden and brought back a watermelon and a couple of squash for us to take home. My friend and I put the horseshoes, that Tom had given us, in the trunk.

 

Before we could leave for home we had to go over to Tom’s shop and push his Model T back into the shop. Tom never learned to drive. If the car ever went anywhere it was because my aunt Ida, Mom’s sister, drove it. With that done, the sun was going down, and we were on our way home. I don’t remember much of the trip home, I fell a sleep before we hit the pavement.

 

Do you know who my friend is? it’s YOU. Did you enjoy the weekend? As for me I’m going to have a piece of Black Walnut Fudge.

 

—-

 

Recipes

 

Homemade Laundry Soap:

 

6 pounds of grease

1 box of Red Devil Lye,

3 tablespoons of borax,

2 tablespoons of sugar,

1 tablespoon of salt,

1/4 cup of ammonia and

1/2 cup of boiling water.

 

Mix the lye in a pan with a quart of hot water and stir until the lye is dissolved. Let it cool, and add the lukewarm dissolved grease. Mix the borax with a half-cup of boiling water, and add it along with the other ingredients. When all the ingredients are dissolved and mixed, pour the solution into flat shallow pans to harden into soap. When hard, the soap can be cut into bars.

 

Watermelon Pickles:

 

4 pounds of watermelon rind

2 tablespoons cloves, whole

2 quarts of cold water

1 quart cider vinegar

1 tablespoon slacked lime

2 tablespoons whole allspice

10 two-inch pieces of stick cinnamon

 

Remove all pink pulp from watermelon rind, Peel outside peeling from the rind. Weigh. Cut in one-inch cubs. Combine cold water and lime. Pour over rind. Let stand one hour. Drain. Cover with fresh cold water. Simmer one and a half hours or until tender. Drain. Tie spices in a cheesecloth. Combine vinegar, 1 quart of water, and sugar, heat until sugar dissolves, Add spice bag and rind; simmer gently two hours. Pack rind in clean hot sterile jars. Fill jars with boiling hot syrup. Seal. Makes about twelve half-pints.

 

Black Walnut Fudge:

 

2 cups of sugar

2 tablespoons of butter or substitute

2 squares unsweetened chocolate or 6 tablespoons of cocoa

2/3 cup of milk

few grains of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

Add as many black walnuts as you want.

 

Combine sugar, milk, butter, salt, grated chocolate. Cover until boiling point is reached. Boil to soft ball stage (235-238 degrees F.). Add flavoring and cool, without stirring, to room temperature. Add the black walnuts and beat until mixture is creamy, thick, and will hold its shape when dropped from a teaspoon. Pour into a well-buttered, shallow pan. Cut into squares.

 

—-

 

Citizen Tom

 

Iowa had a little town called Wick,

While passing through you had to be quick,

There wasn’t much reason for stopping here,

Unless you had been given a bum-steer.

 

The town claimed a church and a store,

A depot blacksmith and not much more,

Tom Sever was the man about town,

Always a smile, never a frown.

 

The blacksmith was my grandpa Tom,

Whose forge was hotter then some,

He hammered out shoes,

For horses to use.

 

He was agent at the train depot

And rang the bell in the church steeple.

So people would get there on time,

Pausing to see his Model T polished so fine.

 

His orchard produced was very profuse

For which he found many a use.

There hanging on the vine,

His grapes would soon become wine.

 

Tom carved out a life,

For two daughters, husband, and wife.

He was poor but never complained.

It was a life style he was forced to maintain.

 

The news of the town centered around,

The old pot bellied stove at the store.

They picked up the mail that came in by rail,

Then discussed the results of the auction sale.

 

There is nothing left of the town of Wick,

But enough memories to make you homesick.

Tom’s jovial manner is no longer around.

But the lessons he left, still abound.

 

—-

 

Engine Number 49

 

On the Burlington line

Ran engine number “49”

 

From Des Moines to Osceola

on a spur,

And at every whistle-stop she

Caused a stir.

 

Mail bogs exchanged and stacked

Milk cans loaded and pushed to back.

 

A part by Railway Express

For a farm implement in distress.

 

The “Des Moines Register”

Thrown on the dock,

Along with feed for livestock.

 

Produce and dry goods for the

General store.

A roll of linoleum for grandma’s

Kitchen floor.

 

Town folks and farmers

Set their clocks

When engine “49” whistled

At the dock.

 

The postmaster and shopkeepers

All came alive,

When they heard she had arrived.

 

All the kids gathered around

When old “49” whistled into town.

 

The spur is now gone

The town has a deserted feel,

All because of the automobile.