To my sisters, brothers, and mother. I hope that 1 have typed this in an accurate manner so as to have faithfully recorded your thoughts. I also hope that it will give the people who live after us some little idea of the kind of people we were. It in no way captures the richness of our lives, or records even a fraction of the joy and pain we felt, no record could. But it makes a small effort to show some of our memories, and a bit of our lives. Best wishes, and love to you all, from Linda.
This is a web recreation of a document created in 1989 by my Aunt Linda, one of the nine children of Dean and Avonelle Rash. She collected statements from her siblings (all seven sisters, I guess neither brother was available) and mother about their memories of "The Old Place," the small house in very rural Iowa where the family lived and where many of them were born. She typed it all up and distributed it, to everyone's benefit. In May of 2006 I asked Uncle Jim to write something, and I have added it here. The siblings are ordered youngest to firstborn, with their mother in the place of honor, closing.
July 4, 1989
For a number of years one or the other of them made sure that we had a Christmas tree. Janice always tried to make sure that Carol and I had a doll each Christmas. One of my guiltiest memories is opening a box before everyone was down, one Christmas morning. I wasn't able to read yet, and I opened Carol's present. Since I was the "baby" of the family I got by with that, and then got to open my own present, and so Carol didn't have a gift to open that year. The guilt hovered over me for days (actually years, we take things hard in this family). I have always thought that this incident showed something about the kind of people we were. We might do things to hurt each other, but our strict consciences abused us for it, and we tried with all of our heart to be good to each other. We truly wanted good things to happen for our brothers and sisters.
I remember how hard Mom worked, in her gardens, and canning. I can remember how wonderful (nothing has ever matched that taste) the sweet corn was. How marvelous the first batch of corn tasted! Mom would cook it in the pressure cooker, and it would be hot. We were too impatient to let it cool, we would take it down to the pump, and pump water over it to cool it. The chicken Mom cooked in that pressure cooker was unmatchable. I understood why the "Colonel's" was finger licking good, when I learned that he had cooked his chicken under pressure, just as Mom had. I turned on that cooker, and I think Mom did too, the Sunday that it blew up in her face, and burned her so badly. I remember skulking around the house after she had gone to the doctor, and wondering what would happen to her.
I will never forget the rumbling, thundering, angry, thunderstorms in Iowa, and how afraid of them Mom was. We were dragged from our beds, and from our sound sleep and made to go downstairs to sit in the living room. Mom sat holding her feet off the floor, and casting frightened looks at the windows.
We had to hold our feet off the floor too. If it were daytime we weren't to put our hands in water, wash our hair, go near the windows, or the electrical outlets, or watch television. We would sit in the living room, longing for sleep, but knowing that we wouldn't be able to go back upstairs until the last bit of thunder was heard rolling off into the distance.
I always thought it was unfair that I was the only one in the family who had to wear glasses. After trying to disguise my affliction for a couple of years, I finally give up and got them in the seventh grade. Dean told a story about when he stopped suspecting, and became convinced, that I must have glasses.
Our dog, Skipper, had been missing, and Dean and I got in the car and went up to Jelsma's (a neighbor's farm) to look for him. Dean said, "We were driving into the driveway at Jelsma's and Linda said, "There he is." "I looked at what she was pointing to, and it was a pig."
Another memory about Christmas, was when I was the last one at home, and we were living at the McClean place. I can't remember where Dean had gone, but it had started snowing a day or so before Christmas, and Mom and I were alone. The weather conditions were terrible, there hadn't been any traffic by the house, and we hadn't been able to get to town to buy any presents. Christmas day was grim and cold; I had to keep reminding myself that it was really Christmas. About 2 p.m. we heard a car plowing away through the snow. We looked out just in time to see Sharon, and her little kids, pull into the yard. She lunged through the snow carrying her children, and then made a trip back for the things she had brought us. I'm sure that it had been difficult for her to make the drive, and I know that she must have been tired for she was working two jobs at that time. But she had thought of us despite those things, and come to bring us our presents. She had brought me a pretty, red dress, and Mom a cute little sugar and cream set; but even more, she had brought us Christmas.
Carol Mae (Rash) Fahey
Mom would say, "Well, I'd like to get a few groceries and go visit Mama for a while."
We would all get cleaned up and get our good clothes on, and off we would go. We would stop at the store on the way to Grandma's and buy things for our "car picnic". We would stop along a quiet road and have our feast. We had bologna sandwiches, rolls, and milk. Then off we would go to Grandma's. The kids would walk uptown from Grandma's and look around in the stores. Sometimes, if we were real lucky, we would get to go to a movie. In later years they had ice cream at the locker in Eldora, and sometimes we would get to stop for an ice cream cone.
We always hoped that we could stay all night at Grandma's but we didn't get to do that very often. She lived in the little red house during those years. It was always a treat to go to Grandma's
Dean on tractor
Sharon Ann (Rash) Doe
I remember another time when Marian and I were playing up the lane by the mailbox and a storm came up. Someone called for us to get down to the house. Later, lightning struck the cement corner post that we had been playing on. The last time I checked, that post was still brown.
Some of my other memories are: The year we had the large strawberries in the garden south of the house. The other good garden food that we ate, such as, corn on the cob, fried cabbage, green beans, fried potatoes, and buttered beets.
I remember the lunches we ate along the road on our way to "Eldorie," as Dean called it.
I still feel our surprise when Mom got out of the car with the new baby, Linda, in her arms. Later, I remember pushing Linda in the big, black buggy, and how blue her eyes were.
I think back to how we pulled each other around on rags, after Mom had waxed the floors, in order to shine them. I remember how on wash day, Mom would sort the clothes in piles on the kitchen floor, and I used to lay on the piles. She would say, "can't you kids go outside and play?"
We used to play "Annie, Annie, over" over the wash house and the brooder house. We would climb up on the wash house, cross over to the house and climb clear up to the chimney, at the top. I was always so afraid when I jumped from the wash house to the house roof. I would stand in the front yard and yell real loud in order to hear my echo. Nobody ever got to drive down the lane without one of us kids seeing them and yelling, "there's a car coming."
Some of the good things about the farm, were how cute the chicks and ducklings were. One of the bad things was when our Uncle Lawrence’s cattle would get in our fields and our gardens, and destroy our crops for the season.
I can remember a few fights with my sisters. One time Marian and I got in a fight and she chased me clear across the field to Lawrence's house. I stood in the road outside the house because I knew that she wouldn't beat me where they could see her. She stood back in the trees and waited for me for a long time, but I stayed where I was. I knew that she still had plans to catch me and beat me.
Marian Jean (Rash) Coen
I remember Tiny and me going to Phylis and Ruth Bryant's. It was so quiet down there! Ruth and Phylis didn't like to climb or play in the same way Tiny and I did. They didn't like the idea that they might get hurt. We would visit them for an hour or so and then go back to our usual play. I have to confess that one day when we went to visit and they were gone, we laid under their grape vines and ate the biggest, sweetest grapes, at our leisure, until we couldn't eat anymore, and then we went home.
That's a kid's view of life, then. Of course, when it rained in the summer you couldn't drive down the lane, and ditto in the winter, with the snow. But those problems were over my head at the time
Janice Lee (Rash) Thorson
It was ugly, that was for sure. It was a grayish brown color with a long pointed snout, and a terrible, long, hairless tail. We grabbed it by the tail and drug it home, left it by the door and ran into the house to find Mom and Dean. I'm not sure what they were doing, but our description of the animal made them curious enough to drop everything and run out to see.
IT WAS GONE! We were incredulous. We had only been inside for a minute.
Could someone have taken it? Then Dean laughed, and Mom joined him, and they explained about the wily possum. "He was playing possum, just pretending to be dead." Marian and I were amazed. That creature, with his open mouth, and stone still body, that we had beaten with sticks, and drug home by his tail, was just fooling us. He certainly gave a wonderful performance, but I bet he was awfully sore the next day.
Sow & piglet
Barbara Ann (Rash) Coen
Later, when I had just turned 16, and gotten my driver's license, I asked Dean if I could take the car (by myself) to an activity at school. I was especially hesitant about asking, because I knew that he had just had the expense of putting a "brand-new" battery in the car, and I was a "brand-new" driver; he might not want to take a chance on me. After much discussion, and a little pep talk, I was allowed my first solo-run. On my way home that night, the car started making a terrible, clanging sound. I drove it about a mile and a half south of Union, parked it, and walked home. The next morning I went with Dean to see what was wrong. All the way over I was mentally preparing myself for a horrible tongue lashing, and maybe a good thrashing, for ruining the car. Dean checked under the hood and discovered that the fan belt had broken, and the fan had cut a hole in the battery. I knew that the battery had cost him a lot of money and I felt so bad. All Dean said was, "Well, I guess it wasn't your fault." He never mentioned the subject to me, again.
Being on the farm was a great advantage mainly because we had plenty of garden space. Our parents worked hard. Our mother canned hundreds of quarts of vegetables each year so we had food but there was little money for anything else.
During the late 30's the farmland was overrun with gophers so the county set a five cent bounty for each gopher we caught. My father showed me how to trap them and for about three years that was my only source of income.
Every week, during the summer, I would have 15 or 20 cents and could go to the movie in Eldora (10 cents) and have a cherry coke afterward (5 cents). My favorite cowboy by far was Gene Autry and his horse Champion. In one movie Gene was chasing a car. The speedometer showed "90" and Gene still caught up. He may have cut across somewhere.
All of us kids loved going to Eldora to visit our grandmother. She was always there and always glad to see us.
Joyce Elaine (Rash) Johnson
As a small girl, the summer costume was a large straw hat, overalls, and best of all, bare feet. The perfect thing for exploring a much loved farm. I remember a large tree stump in the orchard, that is where we "tap-danced". Every little girl wanted to be Shirley Temple.
I went to a country school through the 6th grade. The atmosphere and smells of that little 1 1/2-room school will always be with me. I really did walk 2 1/2 miles to school ... but there were 4 of us, and in my "snapshot" it was always a beautiful, spring day.
For the Christmas program a fresh tree was cut and we had real candles on the tree. I don't remember the presents but I do remember the fragrance of those trees and the excitement building all week, for the big event.
When I left the little school and returned to Union, the brick school house seemed huge to me. I was fascinated by the attic and the bell tower ... I know my brothers and sisters all remember them. I loved playing basketball and softball at Union. My softball was good enough that the boys allowed me to play on their side once in a while. I wonder if I could still smack that ball and catch a fast ball without flinching?
I remember all of us going to Eldora to spend the day with our Grandmother, quite often. She always had time for us, and she and Mom visited and kept track of all of us. Mom's brothers and sisters were in and out. I remember them well when they were young. Marian Jean was the baby of the family when I was home ... she was a cutie. Of course, we were all admirable children and had no faults to speak of. Right Mom?
Through it all, our Mother was our rock, she protected us and loved us, in spite of our shortcomings. We all love her and know she deserves God's blessings, in abundance.
Dean with horses
Hen & chicks
Linda's doll buggy
Hazel Avonelle (Higgason) Rash
One day, Dean's brother, Lawrence, called to me to "come down here". He was loading oats from the old double crib, north of the red barn. When I got there he showed me an old hen that had at least 30 baby chicks. She had made her nest in the oats. There were one or two chicks too small to follow the mother, and more due to hatch out. Since the old hen tried to keep the chicks away from me, and we didn't want her wandering too far away with such little chicks, Dean helped me put her in a chicken coop. My first chickens! I felt as if I had found a gold mine! The young rooster would crow every morning; and later, we had lots of fried chicken.
I didn't like living in the country, or on the farm when I first moved there. I was used to town and seeing my family, so I was very lonely. I used to walk through the pasture to Aunt Eva Rash's house. The kids would walk with me. Aunt Eva was always glad to see me. She was my grandpa Hammer's sister, and everyone who came to her house was made to feel as if they were special. She was a very dear lady, and I loved her very much.
I think everyone should have a chance to live on a farm and take care of chickens, pigs, ducks, and cows. It is a wonderful place to raise a family. I'm glad that our kids were raised in the country. It was great watching them grow up, going up the lane to school, then back home on the bus at night. They would try to race each other to get the leftovers from dinner, or to be first to fry some eggs, to have with bread and butter and milk. I loved watching and hearing them play, and they had the whole country to play in. They loved being near, and playing with the baby animals.
It seems as if I can still hear the boys as they would play down in the lot at the farm with their home made tractors, making tractor sounds. Babe had a two wheel cart he had put together, and he used to haul Barbara on it. One day, it fell apart. He got mad at her, and said, "Now look what you've done." She looked sad, and I had to take him in hand.
The boys used to trap gophers because they could collect a nickel for each foot, for their spending money. One day they went to set traps, and Marian Jean followed them without our knowing it. She was just big enough to walk, and I was scared to death when I couldn't find her. I was looking everywhere, when I saw them coming, with her trailing far behind. They said that they didn't know that she was following until they were a long way from home. Once they did, they had just let her follow along instead of bringing her home.
Babe had a terrible fall from a tree, when he was six or seven. He was trying to put up a swing. I was up at Grandma Higgason's and Grandma Rash was watching the boys. She told me that he fell twenty feet, that it knocked him out, and she had to blow in his face to bring him to. Later, we found that he had a broken shank. It grew back wrong, and he has a bad leg to this day, because of that fall. Babe called his brother, Boy Blue, when he was little; that's where the name.. "Brother", came from. That's what' other people thought that he was saying.
When Brother was just old enough to talk, he was looking out the window, saw the snow, and said, "Oh, see the sugar!", I said, "that's not sugar." Quick, as could be, he asked, "Salt, then?" Each boy had different dogs that they really liked. Brother brought home every stray dog that he found. The first stray was a German Shepherd. That dog just loved him. If he was wrestling with neighbor boys, the dog would take the other boy right off Brother. Once Brother and Babe got in a fight and Brother set the dog on Babe. Babe started to run and the dog ran after him and jumped right at his throat. I yelled, "Trixie, down! " The dog stopped. If I hadn't been there he would have bitten Babe. That dog was a good watch dog. Lawrence’s cattle were always getting out, and ruining our crops and gardens. That dog would watch for the cattle, and if they got too near our garden he would chase them back to the pasture. That made Lawrence mad, and he shot the dog, and made a little boy very unhappy.
Babe had a black shepherd dog that he got when it was a puppy. Babe would wrestle in the yard and Babe would giggle, and say "Don't Sheppy"; the dog tickled him so. That dog disappeared and we always suspected that Lawrence had gotten rid of him too.
It was scary when the kids got hurt. One time, when he was about 10, Brother jumped down, and landed on a nail. I was expecting one of the girls, at the time, and when I tried to pull out the nail I felt sick. Dean came along, and I said, "Go pull that nail out of his foot." He did, and then he said, " I have to take him to the doctor. He is going to need a shot." He was about sick, after having to pull out the nail.
Another time, Babe and Marian Jean were playing, he picked her up and threw her over his shoulder. She came down on her back and it knocked her out. It scared me so much that I threw a wash-pan of water in her face. She came to, and was mad at me for throwing water on her.
The kids had a wonderful place to play as they grew up. In the winter they played in the barn, and in the summer they had the whole countryside. I think that helped turn them into some very nice people. How much I enjoyed them bringing me wild flowers, even dandelions. I had to keep all of the flowers for several days or they felt bad. The kids would find little rabbits and try to raise them on doll-bottles of milk. I remember that Tiny (Sharon) had a pigeon, when she was three. She fed it bread and milk, and kept it in a chicken coop. When she wanted to play with him she would reach in and grab him by the tail. In time, he didn't have any tail feathers, because she had pulled them out. That was one, very ragged looking bird.
Linda was crazy over cats. We had all kinds of cats on the farm, but a black stray kitten came, and she was determined to have him. He was wild as a deer, but she kept feeding him, and finally got close enough to pick him up. He gave her a bad bite on her finger. Dean worked hours to catch him because we were afraid that he might have rabies. We kept him penned up for 10 days in order to make sure that he wasn't sick. When Doctor Weaver treated Linda's finger, and heard about all of the trouble we had catching that cat, he said, "Now, leave the cats alone."
Tiny hurt her finger, and hand, in a worse way. One day, she came home from school as I finished up my wash. She was going to empty my wash water, but before she did, she decided to wash some of her jeans. As she was standing by the washing machine she noticed a string on the wringer. She started to pick it off, and caught her finger in the wringer. I was going out the door with a basket of wet clothes, when she started yelling, and pulling back on her finger. I dropped the basket, but instead of hitting the release bar on the machine, I turned it off. She was still trying to pull her finger out, and then I stopped panicking enough to hit the release bar. Dean wasn't home, and we asked Lawrence to take her to the doctor. Of course, Lawrence told us that he had to feed his cattle first; any other time, he wouldn't have fed them until midnight. She was in a lot of pain. When she got to the doctor she had to have seven stitches in her hand.
The girls all played house in the corn crib and the older girls were in 4-H Clubs. As they grew older, almost all of the girls worked for a neighbor of ours, Florene Johnson. That was the way they earned money for their clothes.
We had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs on that farm. If we hadn't laughed we would have sunk; I believe. One time Tiny and Marian Jean got tickled and couldn't keep from laughing. Dean told them to stop it, but they couldn't, and so they crawled into the pantry, and stuffed their mouths shut with dishtowels.
The kids used to gather around the table to do homework, near the kerosene lamp that lighted the kitchen. On Saturday night they would gather in the living room, and then each would get his/her turn to go to the kitchen and take a bath.
When the kids were small, we had always stressed that they weren't to talk to strangers, or ever get in a car with a stranger. Dean and I were gone one day, and the kids decided to take a walk along the side of the road. A truck came by, and Janice heard one of the men say, "There it is." She figured they were talking about her, and maybe planning on grabbing her. She got scared and ran clear to Jessup's (a neighbor). When she calmed down, she went home to find that her brothers and sisters had upset chairs, and turned the table around, in order to scare her a little more.
Another time, when just the last 3 were at home, Carol was gone to an activity at the school. Dean wasn't home, and so we were all probably a little scared. Suddenly, Tiny said, "I heard Carol yelling for us." I was scared. I didn't know how to shoot the gun, but I got it down anyway, and Tiny, Linda, and I went up that dark, old lane to look for Carol. She wasn't there, of course, and I'm not sure what we would have done if she had been, and someone had been bothering her. I didn't have any idea about how to put shells in the gun. Carol got home about then, and was all upset because we had been looking for her. We walked back down the lane and went to bed.
When I brought Linda home from Iowa City, I handed her to Barbara. She said, "Whose is she?" I said, "She's ours." They were so delighted. Even the boys would pick her up when she was sleeping and carry her around. Once when I was giving her a bath, and talking to her, like you talk to babies, Carol, who was playing near us asked, "Mommy, don't you like anyone else but the baby?" She was almost 5 years old and had been "the baby". It bothered her for me to have another baby.
When Carol was born, Mae Jelsma said for the kids to come up there and stay. She got supper for them, and served them bacon and eggs. Tiny was three years old and she watched Herman as he served himself. Mae said that Herman took a real big helping. Tiny said, "Don't take all the bacon, Herman." Mae said that he was embarrassed, and for years the kids said, "Don't take all the bacon, Herman." whenever they were teasing each other at the table.
One of our happy times was when we got the house wired for electricity. That was when Linda was four, and that year, Brother got a Christmas tree that reached to the ceiling. He bought Linda a doll-carriage, and then asked her what the package was, under the tree. She said, "A doll buggy. I can see the wheels. Babe and Brother helped wire the house. I had always said that if I ever got electricity I would have every light in the house on to show Max and Gladys (my brother and his wife) when they came. When they came one night Gladys teased me because all the lights weren't on.
We appreciated everything we got. We didn't have lots of possessions, and so everything that was new was exciting. When we got a new refrigerator, a new kitchen cabinet or a new bed, we were happy about it. It was hard to do, but I loved to make that old house look pretty. One time, I worked for Oliver Wooten and bought all new wallpaper. Dean worked for Diamond Paint, in Marshalltown, and bought paint.
We really gave the house a face-lift. When Tiny graduated from school, she painted the outside of the house. The bees were always after her. She would get mad, jump off the ladder, throw the broom, and say, "I'm not painting anymore." But she always went back. She griped, but she would work.
Barbara was always a wonderful helper for me. When she was in school she would come home and fill the reservoir (A place on the cookstove in which water was stored, and kept warm). She was good about doing the ironing too. All of the girls had chores to do, but Barbara was the one who would do her chores without being nagged.
Linda sent me an article about a woman's first attempt at gardening. It brought memories to me of my first gardens. Dean taught me how to plant my first garden. He had always helped his mother plant their gardens. There are three gardens that I remember very well. One time, we decided to plant a strawberry patch. Dean sent to Gurney's in South Dakota for 150 strawberry plants. When they came they were brown, and looked dead. One of our neighbors, Keith Fraser said, "send them back, don't set them out."
We decided to try them, anyway. Babe was about 14 or 15 and he helped me. It was hard work. I was so stiff from bending over that I could hardly stand up. What was discouraging was that only 7 of those plants lived. In a year they had multiplied; we had a large patch with big, beautiful berries. Since it hurt my back to pick them, Dean said that he and the kids would do the picking. They did, and brought in 2 dishpans full. After they left, I went back out and picked two more pans full. Lawrence’s cattle broke in and ruined the patch that fall and that was the last attempt at berries for me.
We had an awful time keeping those cattle out of our gardens. One time our vegetable garden was full of ripe vegetables, for eating and canning. We had it fenced in with chicken wire, but the cattle got out in the night. We had planted green beans, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, and radishes. On one side of the garden, Dean had wanted to try some Indian corn, just to see what it would be like; everything was ruined. It just about made me cry. When Lawrence drove his cattle out, I yelled at him, "I had a beautiful garden and your cattle just ruined it." He said, "Yes, you had a good garden." I told him that a judge would have given me $50.00 in damages for it, but he didn't offer to pay any damages.
Mae V. Jelsma, 1904-1993, & Herman Jelsma, 1903-1980
Neighbors of the Old Place. Herman was born the same year as Dean Rash. Maybe they went to school together.
Parents of: James Jelsma, Arlene (Jelsma) Boege, Dallas Jelsma & Stanley Jelsma, and two other sons whose names I don't have.
Phyllis & Ruth Bryant were the Rash kids' cousins, the daughters of
Carl J. Bryant, 1899-1973, & and Pearl (Rash) Bryant, 1905-1979
Johnson, Florene ROGERS, 1893-19XX
Clifford Jessup, 1893-1968, & Gail Jessup, 1898-1975
Neighbors of the Old Place. Parents of Stephen Jessup & Margaret (Jessup) Johnson.
Eva (Hammer) Rash, 1868-1949
Wife of Arthur Thomas Rash, 1864-1933
Sister of Adam Hammer, who was Avonelle (Higgason) Rash's grandfather on the side of her mother, LaVera (Hammer) Higgason. This makes her the great-aunt of Avonelle and great-great-aunt of Avonelle's children
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