Sepia Saturday

Sepia Saturday

Friday, November 9, 2012

Telephone Poles.....

Instead of looking for photos of people on the phone, I thought I would look for evidence that phones actually existed in our area.  Once I thought of the idea then I wondered if I knew the difference between a phone line and a power line.  I guess I really don't. This view is looking towards Murray in 1940.

I do remember in rural southern Iowa in the 60's, that our local phone poles were barely 8 to 10 feet high and they had a limited number of two or three wires on them.  They leaned a lot as the rains in Iowa would tend to wash away the soil from the base of the pole. I don't think they were buried only three of four feet into the ground. One could see them as you drove down a dirt or gravel road while traveling to town to get groceries.

My parents lived in the back of a filling station that was outside of town.  This is in the late 40's and again I don't know if these are power lines or phone lines.  I bet they are power lines,  I am really off theme with the wrong kind of poles.  But poles near a building do tell a story.

This is an old house in Osceola with one power line in view but there is a single pole in the background that probably was the phone line.  Today, most of the phone lines in Iowa are buried underground so you can't see them coming into a house.

This is a house that my grandfather built north of Murray, Iowa.  From what you can see here, I bet the house had neither electricity or telephone. I am sure it was taken in the 30's or earlier so phones companies didn't exist.

It is the 40's and my dad is standing on a street in Belgium.  There is one pole standing in the background.  Wires for something went into that house.

So I found another pole.  It is my photo of me and my three older brothers.  I even remember this pole and it was our telephone pole.  It sat next to a large ditch next to our gravel road that went past our front yard. My mom had planted flowers around it and it always seemed unnatural to have it there as the oiled tall poles didn't come from any trees that we grew in Iowa.   I am sure they came from a grove of tall pines that grew out west in the mountains or in Minnesota.

I stil don't have a visual of the first phone that I ever saw but we had a crank wooden phone that hung on the wall just on the right side of the window.  The wooden box had the black speaker phone projecting out of it  with the receiver hanging to the side of the phone.

 It was early 50's and I was too short to reach the phone and no child in the house was allowed to touch such a thing.  

There was a fuse box on the outside of the house and it was common for the lightning to travel through the lines and the fuse would need to be replaced.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Looking with hats.

A photo posted by a childhood classmate on her facebook post brought back many memories to me.  She posted the photo, as she was related to three of the children and she is the younger girl in the photo riding the carnival ride.  I am posting the photo as to what is going on in the background.  The time period has to be around 1953 and the location is unknown to the owner of the photo.  I suspect it is in one of the neighboring towns of Murray, Iowa.  The possible towns could be Afton, Creston or Osceola.

I remember seeing steam engines when young as they traveled through Murray, Iowa.  The tracks divided the town and to travel to the grocery store we would have to wait for the trains to pass by while the cars and trucks waited to cross.  The dark smoke from burning coal was very visibile and the sulfur smell is a strong memory to me also. The coal car itself was filled to various degrees depending on the last time they had loaded up the coal for the train.  The mechanics of the propelling of the wheels because of steam power is still a fascination to see.

The hobos riding along on top of the cars during the warm months made the watching of the train more enjoyable.  My mother shared with me that it was common for the hobos to get off of the train and knock on doors for free food to  eat.  She said that when she and my dad had first married, they lived in a rented house close to the track in Murray. It was a bad place to live as the sound of the trains literally sounded like they were coming through the living room.

 It  was not a surprise to her to have someone knock on the door and politely ask for a plate of food.  My mom would tell of finding cold boiled potatoes and bread for them to eat and they really like hot cups of coffee, which they would eat while sitting on the porch outside. Milk and spare desserts would make them very pleased.

One other distinct memory of the old trains was the one seeing them traveling down the tracks in the country.  Highway 34 ran parallel to the track so one could see the engine puffing out its black and gray smoke, billowing out in cloud-like forms. The smoke stack left a trail behind it for a very long distance. The smoke trail would be different on windy days but the stretched trail along the top of the cars would make it seem like a magical thing.

One other observation from the photo is the dress of the people in the background.  It was some sort of town celebration that was going on as the men were wearing dress slacks and white shirts, not the everyday jeans or bib overalls. The conversations seemed important as they ignored both the passing steam engine as well as the kids on the carnival ride. I really can't see how they could hear one another when the train was going by them.  I can't imagine that the engine is parked there but it might be as you see people crossing the tracks with out worry on the left side of the photo.

On a different vien of thought, I found a postcard photo of a school building in Dexter, Iowa.  This was not necessarily a common look of the schools built back then as most of them didn't have the decorative details as this one has. What I found interesting is that it must have been designed and built at the same time as the one in my school in Woodward, Iowa.  The reason being that it is exactly the same building as the one I first taught here in Woodward back in 1976. I would declare that the same architect plan was used and maybe the same crew could have built the building.

As evidence to my belief of them being the same structure different locations is the drawing of the Woodward building. when it was first built.   It was built in 1906 and torn down in 1993. This is the first time that I have ever seen another building in Iowa that was just like this one.

I didn't attend here, I was a teacher in this building starting in 1976.  My room was in the area where the three back basement windows are on the right side.

As a footnote to the above drawing.  I had few pictures of the real building while I was teaching in the building.  Once the building was torn down,  I created the drawing from a postcard similar to the one created of the Dexter building. The postcard was being sold at the Iowa Historical Building in Des Moines.

You have noticed that I am totally off theme. I do have some men with hats, standing and talking. I rarely keep my train on the track, so to speak.  I was feeling guilty as I had not posted for a long time.  With winter coming I will be forced to stay inside and my blogging should pick up to a more regular pace.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

One bicycle.........

Pursuing a possible shot of something with bicycles, I did remember having this one fifties black and white.  I am six and my brother Dwight would have been 9 years old.  We are standing in front of our old farm house in southern Iowa and it must be early spring.  It is a repost photo from my blog a year or so back.

My brother Dwight was into bicycles.  I don't know how he obtained them but he seemed to always have two wheels around to ride.  I think maybe that this bike was one of my older brothers' bikes.  I wasn't riding anything that required balancing on thin rubber tires at that age.

Later on Dwight put some money together and bought himself an English Bike.  That is what we called it in southern Iowa.  It was actually what we buy today as a modern bike with it's lighter frame and with gears and hand brakes.  The gear thing was a real fascinating invention to me.  He did look like he had a foreign bike compared to our clunkier thick metal bikes.

We had dirt roads that were used by my dad to get access to his farm fields.  They were dusty two wheeled paths with weeds and grasses growing down the middle of them.  One could go behind our farm buildings and coast down the hill to build up momentum to then head west up the farm road.  I remember the wild yellow flowers that were short and they grew all along the path. The Queen Anne's Lace would be swaying in the breezes as you traveld down the road.  In early summer the Meadowlarks would be singing and the bumblebees were always busy seeking necture.

My begging for a new bike yielded for me three used bikes from a farm sale.  I was a lot disturbed about that but the two smaller well used bikes and the one larger one became a great summer thing for me.  I learned to ride a bike by getting at the top of the hill and coasting down it for a few times.  After the falls and the trial and error of being on this strange thrilling machine,  I learned to turn towards the fall and I was riding.  I rode all the time every summer.

My brother passed away in 2008 and the photo of us two seemed to be so long ago.  Me in my baggy, homemade long sleeve shirt and he in his T shirt.  We were closer friends back then. He became self destructive and difficult to be around by his late 20's.  The difficulty proved to make all family members withdraw and he succeeded in that early finishing of his life.  I think the early years of school were his only real happy times in his life. He did love his bikes.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Let's Eat.........

It is 1965 and it is summer.  My parents belonged to a social group that played cards in the evening on Saturday nights every two weeks.  They took turns meeting at one of the four couples' house and usually had a dessert before playing cards.

In the summer the group started having a cookout in the evening to give them time to enjoy the summer weather and a chance to eat with each other.  From what I remember each couple brought a covered dish and the host couple supplied meat, bread and potatoes or whatever that made the meal a substantial feast.   On rare occasions I attended some of these cookouts as I was the only young one still around among the group's families. I was a novelty because I was still in school and none of the others had their offspring in the state. They liked having the kid around once in a while.

The photo is taken in the back yard of Ted and Janice Nannens.  You can see the farm lot in the back and it is early summer. The farm was north of the town of Murray, Iowa.  Ted the host took the photo as he is not in the picture.  It is an original black and white photo that was taken even though color film was available.  I am sure the black and white was affordable at the time.

Most of them are my relatives.  Dad is on the front left side sitting next to his first cousin Galen Burgus.  Uncle Bill Farr sits at the end.  Janice Nannen, not a relative, sits at the head of the table. She is the only person still living from this photo.

June Burgus, Galen's wife, sits on the front right side.  She is one of the people who made me take an interest in anti;ques.  Her house was furnished with early farm furniture.  Most of her pieces were purchased at farm auctions for a quarter or sometimes a dollar. She collected Hummel figurines, glassware and other antique dishes.  She also prided herself in being a great cook and did make some great food.  I remember sitting at her grand old table filled with lots of food and having roasted duck.  Sitting next to her is my mom and next to her is my Aunt Mary Farr.

I realize that I have many photos of family of the last 20 years sitting around the table for birthdays but this photo tends to fit the old days in the best way. Maybe another time I can get them organized and share the growth of our boys as the parties continued each year.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Granger, Iowa Late 1800's

Granger, Iowa celebrated it's centennial back in 1984.  That means the town is now 128 years old.  It isn't a large town but it's early history included Italian coal miners living in the area. The agricultural influence on the area helped to feed the country.

While reviewing the Granger Centennial Book of 1984 I notice a theme of horse power being critical for the development of the area.  A horse and buggy would get you to wherever you needed to go on the dirt roads of the area.  Des Moines is thirty or more miles to the south so local grocery stores, doctors, and lumber yards kept the locals buying locally.

It really would be worth you while to click on the photos to see them in the larger format. There is a lot more to see of the history of Iowa when you do so.

Downtown Granger with it's dirt streets has electric wires down the streets.  I don't know it they are power lines also. This had to have been in the early 1900's. I like how the horse and buggies are pulled up in front of the businesses just like model T's would eventually have done.

Horses were essential to bring in the harvest from the fields.  Work back then was just as hard but its pace had to be different as the work was more extensive and slow.  Pitching bales of straw were slow when you were not using machinery to bring in the crop.

Covered carriages were a welcomed luxury with snow on the ground.  This looks like a scene at a country homestead as the grove of trees reminds me of a country area. I am sure a country doctor would have to depend on his horse and buggy to take him to the sick.

Riding behind the mower or binder was hot work and I am sure a rough ride with metal wheels.  A straw hat was mandatory in the summer heat of Iowa.
town consolidated it's school with Granger in 1976 so as I was hired to work for the two schools, I felt I was just as much a part of Granger as I was with the town of Woodward in which I lived.  The family histories of the people are all the grandparents of the parents of the children that I taught in Granger so as I go through the Granger Centennial Book I do know most of the names.
I have more to blog about with this town as it had a circus that wintered near the town and the very first government housing program happened in the Granger area.  I also have some school building history to share.  They were a part of our inter urban train line that connected to Des Moines.

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hats and shoes.............

Following the theme of the past I will share the different members of my family covering their heads or maybe their feet.  My grandmother Mabel Wheeler Brown Brooks is posing for her picture in her wedding dress and hat. It is the year 1913. I actually have both items stored in a box in my upstairs room.

Out at my great grandpa Wheeler's farm stands four women with great fashion.  My mom has the fur coat and hat with fashionable shoes. Her younger first cousin Eva Wheeler White is not so dressed up with her stockings and everyday shoes. The woman hiding in back is Leila Wheeler Witt. A friend of my mom's on the right wears a stylish hat and sensible shoes.  I don't think that is a feather in her hat but some part of a background post or tree. I am guess the time period is the late 1930's.

My mom steps out in her fashions of the past with the stripes on her dress and also on her socks. The shoes are partially hidden but her hat is clearly in sight.  My uncle Marvin with his wife stand behind her with his straw hat. The two children are half cousins to my mom. I also believe this was taken in the 1930's.

Practical shoes for a teacher of a country school are shown with the children of the school.  It is out on the prairie with parents in the background looking on at the camera. My mom taught school from 1938 to 1940's.

Hats and coats are great to wear in the winter in Iowa.  The Charles Burgus clan are visiting an in law family of one of their daughters Ruby Burgus Henderson.  My grandmother Grace Burgus is the one with the gray hair and no hat. Her daughter Amy stands to her front left and my Grandfather Burgus stands the next one over in  the lineup with his dark hat and tie. The rest of the people would be a guess for me as to who they are. The hats do vary as well as the styles of coats. The picture was taken in area on a farm south of Murray, Iowa.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cards of heartlfelt love......


It is a small collection from my parent's home.  I really never asked anything about their history and yet most of them have my mom's name written on them.  The history part is seeing who sent them and when.  I can glean facts and dates by seeing how many children were born at the time it was sent. 

The back side of the folded card Valentine is below.

To Zella from Marvin, Leila and Eva Marie Wheeler.  The history of family here shown by the name of Marvin.  Marvin in my mom's, Zella, brother.  He went to live with Uncle Lee to help out on the farm.  Times were tough and Marvin lived with them for a length of time to be farm help and work as the young hired hand.  Uncle Lee had four kid's but only two have them have been born.  The two girls Leila and Eva Marie were born and a boy and girl have yet to be born.  Lee Junior and Freda will complete their family. I do have a photo of a baby that they had lost, laying in its casket out at the cemetery near Macksburg, Iowa. I have chosen to never post that and find it strange that they even took the photo.

 Rural language that evolved from no education.  It certainly is not the King's English.

Old photos or old Valentine's, either way it is history.  Illustrations from the pass tell a lot of what is going on in the country of the time.  The dancing hearts at the bottom of this last card reminds me of the precartoon era.  The early black and white cartoon movies and even Disney showed the flavor of dancing characters with stick legs.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Man and Beast

My brother is showing off his new band uniform for the Murray High School band.  Our dog Tippy is checking out the smell of his shoes.  The shoes had to be painted with a white polish to keep them white.  It was opaque enough that it was like whitewashing a picket fence to get it to be clean and white again. Tippy was the first dog that I remember in the family. They had a border collie which they lost the year before I was born.  Tippy was get outdoor dog that fathered many of puppies in the farm neighbor hood.  I remember his smells as he loved rolling around in about everything. He reminds of a part border collie but he was a mixed breed.

I had a photo of my dad with the twin calves.  Couldn't find the photo so I give you just the calves.  It was rare and profitable to have cows give birth to two calves.  Hereford is the breed in case you couldn't tell.  They survived the winter births in March down in low valley areas of our pasture out of the wind. These two were brought to the barn as they were small and dad wanted to be sure they survived.

Larry and Dwight holding their killer beasts.  The cats were a major way for us to learn how to relate to animals.  It was also a bad way to learn about life and death as cats tended to get them selves in trouble and skip the nine lives situation. 

My dad's assigned regiment in Washington DC had a mascot German Shepard.  The man is covering the dogs eyes so the flash of the camera won't scare him. 

My oldest brother Ron is showing off his heifer that he showed in the 4-H county fair.  She was a gentle cow and we had her for many years giving us a calf each spring.  I suffer emotionally when I think of the day my Dad called up a man to sell off his herd of 27 Herefords. He was selling the farm and they had to go. I was in college at the time, 1970.  I know my dad cried and I didn't have to be there to know it.  That is the part of raising animals that makes it difficult and they do become like family members and our emotions are so intertwined with them.

My youngest son Aaron and his two dogs.  The one is a puppy that he got so the other dog would have company.  Aaron was terrified of dogs when young and now carries his babies around the house in his arms.  The are great dogs who get to enjoy their home in Maine. We always have to ask how Penny and Hannah are doing as they are the closet thing we have to grandchildren.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mama don't take my Kodachrome away.....

With Kodak filing bankruptcy and my discovering a new photo, I thought I would make up my own theme.  The photo I found is pretty gaudy in color and I did tone it down a little with my photoshop program.  The thing that amazed me about the photo is the change one can see from photos with life's physical changing process, the change in housing and the change in clothing styles, even if it is only 70 or more years.

The house has been moved to Lorimor, but my Grandfather Charles Burgus and Grace Turner Burgus built and lived in this house north of Murray on a farm.  He was a farmer and they raised 10 children in the house. They did move away from the four square house so that the children could attend high school in Murray by buying a farm near there.

The ten Burgus children are at left.  My dad is the silly one on the right.  They look like they were just back from church.  The two on the left front are twins and my dad is on the far right. Dad was born in 1918 and he looks about ten here so 1928 is my guess for the time period.

Here is an informal shot of the ten at the city park with their mom and dad in the middle.  Mama and Papa I should have said.  They were a close bunch even though eventually three of them moved away from the Murray area.  One brother ended up living in Creston, Iowa, another brother was in the Indianola area and a sister lived in the Chariton, Iowa area.  The rest lived on farms in the Murray and Osceola, Iowa area. One sister went off to Oregon and another sister followed for a couple of years but eventually all were back living close to each other.

I have a first cousin that could probably date this photo for me.  I know that the one brother Carl in the back row had earlier lost his only son in a drowning accident and you can see the effects on him in the photo.  Ruby in the front row, next to my grandmother Grace was the one who moved out to Oregon and worked for the war effort, welding in a plane factory.  She did return to the Murray area after the war with her husband. I don't know if this is before the war but my dad looks young, left front row and he doesn't look like he has gone to war at that time.

Back row: Eva Burgus Dovenspike, Carl Burgus, Doris Burgus Forbes, Donald Burgus, Amye Burgus Ramsey, Cecil Burgus, Mary Burgus Farr
Front row: Jesse Burgus, Charles Thomas Burgus, Grace Elizabeth Turner Burgus, Ruby Burgus Henderson, Ralph Burgus

Kodachrome photo appears from the past and it is such a typical home photo.  I like the way that the one guy is cut off and my Uncle Donald can't be seen at all except you know he is standing behind Aunt Amye with her beehive hair.  If she had not worn her hair that way, we would have seen Donald.

It almost seems like time traveling ahead a hundred years, but it probably isn't any more than 30 years or less from the photo above.  The above photo had to be in the 40's and the photo at left had to be in the late 60's.
The house was built in 1959 by my dad.
Ralph died in 1957 so they are down to nine.
It is the summer and the style of dresses must be late 60's.  We lost Aunt Ruby in the early 70's.

Front row of Aunts: Doris Forbes, Amye Ramsey, Mary Farr, Eva Dovenspike and Ruby Henderson.
Second Row:  Cecil Burgus, Jesse Burgus, Donald Burgus and Carl Burgus

I was so surprised to find this photo of color in a pile of pictures in one of my dad's old cigar boxes. It really jumped out at me as they entire group and their spouses are now all gone.  My mom was the last to pass away in 2008.  The photo brings back all the memories of the family dinners that happened every year. It was either Thanksgiving or at Christmas time.  All the uncle and aunts would be there with spouses and my cousins of the younger family members were there. Cecil, the oldest, and his wife Bertha attended but their two children had move away out of state. We sometimes saw the son Roger and his wife, but rarely did we have a visit from their daughter Cecilia. Those two being the oldest cousins are gone also.

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