Sunday, December 15, 2019

A Poet, An Artist and a Farm Wife

My aunt Vera and her husband, Uncle Floyd, lived on a farm outside of Yates Center, KS, pop. minuscule, bought a farm in 1946 for $6,100 and paid off a $40 year note in a brief five years.  From my childhood visits, I remember that there was a water pump in the kitchen (water lines hadn't been put in yet) an outhouse some 40 or 50 ft. from the back porch.  They put in a bathroom when the water got to the farm.

They had to use oil lamps until electricity arrived and trimming the wick so it would burn evenly  and cleaning the glass was a big job.  Heat was provided by a trio of black stoves - the big one in the kitchen for cooking; the two middle-sized in the dining room and parlor which was seldom used.

 They raised pigs ("Don't sit on their fence; you fall in, they'll eat you!") a couple of draft horses to pull the plow and reaper in season and a couple of cows.  Vera sold milk and cream to a dairy - after separating out some of the cream for her uses.  Her whipped cream for various desserts could truly be cut with a knife.  My job was feeding the chickens and collecting their eggs, a great adventure for a six year old.  They bite!

Their farm was at the end of the road, and Vera named it Wits End Farm, whether ironically or in desperation was never known.  She painted a sign and hung it on the gate onto the land.  It was lonely out there, no close neighbors; Yates Center some five miles away.  Too far to walk, especially in a Kansas winter where, unstopped, the snow blew in with vigor -  and regularity.

Uncle Floyd was taciturn to the point of nearly not talking at all.  Whether he was the same when they were alone will never be known, but what is known are her poems, hand designed and painted birthday and Christmas cards.  Vera's grandson Leslie came across this Christmas poem, written July 26th in 1946.

'Tis the day after Christmas
and all through the flat
There are boxes and wrappings
Scarce room for the cat

The house is all silent
Except for Pa cracking nuts
And I go around munching
Too much candy and such

How proud of my presents
My loved ones have given
Sure looks like old "Santa"
Some good bargains had driven

My greetings from friends
Both near and after
Gives me a happy feeling
No loneliness can mar

I clear up the nutshells
The tinsel and trash
Take down the little tree
Once a beautiful thing

Put away the decorations
Carefully wrap the soap deer
Pack away each bauble
To use next year

There's a feeling of sadness
The girls are gone*
But I had a good Christmas
With everyone home

*Referencing their two daughters Mardell and Marjorie.

No comments: