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Monday, June 27, 2011

Iowa Trip May 2011

This trip with Mom and my oldest sis was a “let’s find the cemeteries where relatives are buried”, “this is where we use to live” and “visit with Iowa and Nebraska relatives”. Not necessarily in that order. (Sis called it the Cemetery Tour.) Sis and Mom started from Higginsville, Missouri just east of Kansas City on Friday, May 6th, traveling to Omaha, Nebraska. They visited with my daughter, loaded my stuff, and off we headed for the night in Sioux City, IA.
Saturday morning we found what was St Joseph’s Mercy Hospital and I think is now Mercy Medical Center. Mom graduated as an RN from there in 1937.
 

Continuing our journey on Saturday, we traveled on to Holstein, Iowa, past Mom’s Grandparent’s home


and to the Holstein Cemetery.


The best part of the Holstein visit was with Mom’s nieces (our cousins) and their families. The nieces are Mom’s brother’s children. The youngest lives on the family farm that as children we frequently visited. This visit really was old home time.
As my sister so eloquently wrote; It was a time of togetherness and reminiscing. Each of you sisters did the work to make your efforts came together in such a delicious meal. The meal alone was enough to take us down memory lane. I remember going to the farm to see Uncle Earl and Aunt Norma. I have memories of coming down the lane to see you kids and to be able to visit the pigs, cows, calves, chickens, lambs, and ducks. There were always cats and kittens underfoot. It was awesome when you dad filled the cats milk pans. What a gathering!

We sometimes got to visit the barns, see the garden, peek into the root cellar, look at what was going on in the summer kitchen and find out if there was any corn in the corn crib. We always looked to see if the windmill was turning. I have memories of the hard work your dad did. That his rule was to never waste anything that was still usable. I remember the work of daily chores. The wind break and the windrows. The lamb pasture in the front yard. The yard dog sleeping. The water pump handle.

The memories of your Mom working in the house are crystal clear. We got fresh rolls, garden veggies, homemade pickles and homemade desserts. I remember the smell of fresh yeast rolls. I remember Joann washing dishes and we got to help dry dishes. It was such a treat to visit Grandma Goettsch in Holstein and then to get to go to the farm. Thank you for sharing your home with us again.”
 

We spent Saturday night in Carroll, Iowa. Sunday morning we quickly went through HyVee and picked up a dinner-to-go, carrying it with us to Lake City, Iowa. It was Mother’s Day Sunday and the perfect day to spend some time with Uncle Roy Sam.


Again in Sis’s words; “Thank you for sharing a stream of memories with us while we toured the cemetery.


Also, it was interesting to tour Lake City with you to see if we could find the old neighborhoods and our past homes.


I was glad to see Dad’s garage still standing.
Too bad, so sad that the garden was gone. I know that I don’t want to do all the work needed to do the canning and cooking Mom did. The old swing set sure looked little. All of these places are certainly much smaller now than they were in the 50‘s!


One thing that stayed the same was Rainbow Bridge. Thank you for the story of the three arches. Our family had such fun fishing and picnicking at the site. I think that the only fish I ever caught were sunfish. I don’t know if they were baby bluegill or pumpkinseed. I know that both are found in most of the state's lakes and streams. I know that both have a blue spot on the ear flap, but the pumpkinseed also has some bright orange at the very edge of the flap. Also, bluegills tend to be mostly olive colored while pumpkinseeds are more orange colored. Whatever! We caught them once and threw them back. We caught them twice and threw them back. We caught them.... You get the picture. It took lots of worms!



What I remember most is going out to look for the night-crawlers. Today my kids would not know night-crawlers as red worms they would only know them as an action figure, a mutant who possesses superhuman agility, the ability to teleport, invisibility in deep shadows, and adhesive hands and feet. They would know that his physical mutations include blue fur, two-toed and -fingered feet and hands (not including thumbs), yellow eyes, and a prehensile tail. I think that they would know that the red worm squishes and wiggles in your fingers. If you squish too much you get two wiggle worms. Now tell me, Roy Sam, who do you think had the most fun? We girls out with dad and flashlights and coffee cans in the dark looking for worms or my kids with their plastic action toys?
Even when we take family for granted and have Uncles whom we do not see often we learn new family knowledge and open lines of communication when we visit. We gain details which are etched into memory and the personality of our family heritage. These family stories link us to our past and make a bridge to our children’s future.
You are the relatives who are an invaluable commodity because you have the better acquaintance with our grandparents. We look at people who belong to us and though your recollection we see the past. Some of us in this next generation are eccentric, impetuous and wayward, but all we are truly the Johnson clan, the Johnson network and Johnson tribe.”

Later Sunday, we traveled back-country roads to see if we could find an old cemetery with the graves of our Dad’s Father’s parents. Pleasant Hill Cemetery is kitty-cornered across the road from Bowman Chapel Methodist Church at the intersection of Bowman Avenue and 240th Street, Guthrie County, Iowa.

Sis and I searched the cemetery and located the grave.


Backtracking a short distance up Highway 71 to Audubon we stopped by the hospital where Mom worked during the 1950’s.  
We found both houses on Division Street. However, the farm house (Albert the Bull is standing about where the lane to the house was located) and the house on Circle Drive are no longer standing.




We continued on our way and arrived back in Omaha at my daughter’s. Mom and I sat under a tree in her the garden enjoying the shade and all the flowers. Sis toured her house that was prepared for sale. We were early enough for the four of us to have dinner together that evening.


Monday morning found us in La Vista, Nebraska visiting with a cousin of my Dad’s. He gave sis a tour of memorabilia from his and his wife's families and from his days with the Omaha Stockyard. His wife, Mom and I had a really nice visit. (I’d toured their new home the year before during a previous visit.)

After dropping me off, sis and Mom finished their journey back to Higginsville, Missouri. This was an unforgettable trip. So very glad we went and took Mom for wonderful visits.