Wednesday, October 29, 2014


When Fall Descends onto North Central Illinois

 On September 7, 1976 we came back from a summer's vacation to take up residence at Oregon, Illinois.  Our twins were 13 that day and they, all five of our children, missed their school pictures that year.  I think the school had taken pictures the first day of classes.  It seems to me they've not done it that way again.

We were still camping with the Able family when October came.  To our complete delight, the Autumn on Parade, started on the first Saturday of the first weekend.  Country folks and others of the town put up booths to sell their wears on Saturday and Sunday, all around the Court House square.  Near noon on Sunday the festival parade began.  We walked from the parsonage a half block with folding chairs to watch the bands and many displays progress along the street.  Jim Barns was mayor.  He and his wife, Barbara, had been instrumental, with others,  in organizing the annual parade a few years earlier.

Early in November we moved into an old brick farm house, ten miles out of town, which we rented    for five years.  That was a great place for our children to have their first experience of country living. We all enjoyed it very much.  There we grew a large garden, raised rabbits, ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens and goats.  At least all of those.

At the end of those five years, our family were needing to move to town.  The kids were involved in after school activities.  Lilly and I were both working in town or beyond, and different shifts.  So the logistics of getting everybody to their place on time required the move.  We were able to buy an old house that met our needs right on the parade route.  So all these years, if we were in town, we've sat in our own front yard watching the great parade go by.

Oregon, Illinois is alive with gorgeous trees as well as the surrounding country.  The town was built on the banks of the Rock River.  On the bluff across the river, Lorado Taft erected a repleca of Black Hawk, the great chief of the Sauk Indians.  It stands 48 feet tall above the bluff among the wooded hills.  The statue was poured there of cement in December 1911 and timely repairs keep it available for generations to come.

It is said the first settler arrived here in 1837.  There were already others coming into the area.  John Deere came in 1834 down river a few miles at Grand Detour.  He set up his black smith shop and built a house.  On its completion he brought his family from the State of Vermont.  Soon John had developed the plow that opened the prairies for the great migration of farm families who would come from places afar to make their homes and raise their young.

The region around is rife with delightful points of interest.  Parks for camping and picnicking can be found throughout the area.  Chicago is one hundred miles to the east on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Galena, home of General Grant, is about 70 or so miles to the northwest.  Within a hundred mile radius of Oregon there is a years worth of weekend getaways.  It has been a beautiful and healthy area to raise our own young during these thirty-eight years.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


It Seems More Difficult with Children, but with Adults Sickness Can Be Tough, too

The first illness I remember was when Pallie Sue was six weeks old, end of October, 1941.  She had pneumonia.  And then later at six months of age.  They were both nip and tuck times.  I don't remember so much about the first time.  I wasn't at the hospital either time and don't know where Donnie and I were.  The second time was during in March 1942.  

We didn't always get snow in March, but it was not unusual.  I think it was night.  We lived on the farm a mile north of Red River, eight miles from town.  Then from town, Eldorado, Oklahoma, it was thirteen more miles south to Quanah, Texas and the hospital.  Mother and Daddy were driving in pretty heavy snow that night.  One great thing about driving in Texas, they had good paved roads and posts markers along the edge of the road.  Each post had a clear marble embedded about two thirds way up the post.  It was those shinny marbles that were guiding Mother and Daddy through that bleak night.  Mother was holding the very sick baby and asking if Daddy could drive a little faster.  That's when the old car died.

There was not much traffic on the road.  I remember them mentioning that they were praying.  In a little bit, car lights could be seen coming from behind them.  Daddy got out and waved the passers to stop.  It was a couple with room in the back seat.  They gave Mother and Daddy with Pallie Sue a ride on to the hospital. They were so very grateful.

At the hospital, the Doctor was doing his best.  After a while, that night or another night, the Doctor said to Mother, "Ernesteen, I just don't know what else to do.  But we do have a new medicine that has been having good results with the Soldiers in Europe."  That was  WWII.  His problem was dosage.  Sulfa drug came packaged as powder closed one dose wrapped in paper.  He wondered, if they dare try it on a baby.  His real concern was how much should he give to a six month old baby?

Even after he gave the medicine, she continued to get worse.  Mother said as she watched, Pallie's breath continued to get slower and slower.  She had been praying and was so fearful.  Finally from her terrified heart, she cried to the Lord.  "I just don't think I can give her up.  But if that is Your will, I surrender my will to You."  Almost immediately the tiny, very short breaths began to grow.  Little by little she took deeper breaths until after a while her color had returned and she slept normally.

Another time it was Linda Kay who was sick.  Mother or Daddy had called Dr. Crow's office and asked him to come.  So as the night vigil continued, Mother was keeping watch over the baby, but dozing off now and then.  It was a cold night.  Daddy earlier had lifted the lid on the wood stove in the living room to put in a new log to carry us through the night.  Now and then Mother heard a noise and went to look out in case the Dr. was coming.  But he never came.

In the morning when Daddy went out to start the morning chores a huge three foot circular hole was burned through our wood porch.  When Daddy was putting wood in the stove the night before, he could never get that log to go all the way into the stove because of a kind of knot on the side of the log.  So he lifted it back out and laid it on the porch to split later into smaller pieces.  Later he thought the end of the large log had stuck to a hot coal.  It didn't fall off when he lifted and carried it out.  The greater miracle by the grace of God was that the house didn't burn down.  There was a strong wind from the northwest. The porch floor was open to the south and east.  The slowly burning log eventually caught the porch floor on fire and when the burning hole was large enough the log fell to the ground within one foot of a glass gallon jug of naphtha, a highly combustible liquid.  The log was burned completely when morning came.  We gave great praise to God.  Linda Kay got well and we have all rejoiced for the graciousness of the Lord