Friday, February 21, 2014

Family Friend Friday - Martha King Espander

Growing up we had a large group of family friends that were single people. Generally they were people that my parents worked with and/or we went to church with. Over the years many of them married and moved away but I remember them as being part of our family.

One of those was Martha King. Martha was in nurses training at LaJunta Mennonite School of Nursing with Mom. She was older than many of the students but was in Mom's class - the class of 1955. After they graduated, Mom married and settled in Greensburg, Kansas. Martha, like many other Mennonite nurses, got a job at the hospital in Greensburg. At that time the hospital, Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, was run by the Mennonite Church.

I remember Martha often coming out to our house for dinner. She and my brother shared a birthday - June 5.

Tom Egli family, Ken Schmidt family and Martha on the right. 1958
We all remained close to Martha for many years and I remember her being at our house in Rocky Ford, Colorado. She lived in Walsenburg, Colorado and later in Pueblo, Colorado. I remember her commenting one time that "I am older now than my mother was when she died." Her mother died at the age of 45, when Martha was only nine years old. Her mother's birthday was the same as mine, Nov. 8.

Martha was very excited when she met Otto Espander, a widower in Walsenburg and they were married May 8, 1970 when Martha was 50.  But sadly, Otto passed away June 9, 1971. Martha lived in Pueblo the remainder of her life. She died August 17, 1996.
L to R: Rita, Susan, Phyllis, Nancy and Martha 1976

I have wonderful memories of this caring woman, who loved others and had a strong faith in God.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

BIRTHDAY BIO - Edna Amanda Peterson Egli 1900-1984

Edna Amanda Egli was born on February 16, 1900 in Manson, Iowa. She was the fifth of eight children born to Peter and Annie Peterson. Three sisters, Minnie, Sylvia, Delphia, and one brother, Floyd, were older than her and when she was born they were 8, 6, 4 and 2. Needless to say, her mother had her hands full and in less than a year, she was expecting again. Her younger siblings were Sanford, Lillian and Hazel.

 Edna says in her handwritten memoirs:

“I can remember leaving home to stay with an Aunt and Uncle in Cherokee, IA.  They carried me wrapped in big shawl to the train and I stayed with them because Mother was expecting another baby, he was 1 1/2 years younger than I. Seemed like for years I would go and live them every so often up until 10 or 12 years. (I) would go home for school and back with them in summer months. Their children were older than I so I told people I was adopted and my own folks weren't my real parents.” 

Edna and her Cherokee County Mama, Aunt Mary

In spite of the time spent in Cherokee, Edna detailed lots of memories of her life in Manson as a young girl. Her uncle built their house on “Swede hill.” Her dad worked as a clerk in the grocery and dry goods store. They had a barn with a cow and chickens so they had plenty of milk, cream, butter and eggs. 

Her mother did all the sewing of dresses, shirts and coats. Her dad had a shoe repair kit and would resole their shoes. The Peterson family faithfully attended Augustana Lutheran Church in Manson.

In the winter the neighborhood children would sled and skate and in the summer they played games “like run sheep run” and 4th of July picnics, or going on a long hayrack ride out to Twin Lakes.

1922 Ford Model T Runabout
Edna attended Manson schools and graduated from Manson High School in 1918.  During her school years she worked at Dalton Press, a publishing company in Manson. She earned 5 cents an hour.  Later, in 1922, she sold subscriptions to the Manson Journal and won first prize in a contest. The prize was a car – a Ford Coupe Runabout. Or so I was told. [see link]

Edna also attended and graduated from Fort Dodge Business College and was later employed by Davis Bros. & Potter Grain Company as the manager of the Manson Elevator. It was here at the elevator that she met Emery Egli, who also worked there.

Edna married Emery Egli on October 5, 1929. Soon after they were married, Edna joined the Mennonite Church in Manson. 

Edna and Emery Egli farmed in the Manson vicinity until they retired in 1966. They had four children -- Thomas, Phyllis, Harris, and Kenneth,  – and ten grandchildren. 

Edna passed away on February 12, 1984, just short of her 84th birthday.  Her funeral was February 15 at the Manson Mennonite Church; interment at Rose Hill Cemetery, Manson.       


Baptism certificate
Phyllis Egli Schmidt
“Recollections of My Childhood” by Edna
Funeral card

Sentimental Sunday - Pete Seeger 1919-2014

Pete Seeger died on January 27.  Pete was known for his controversial political views. But that is not what I know about him. [If you want to know more, there is a lot of information on the internet - just Google him!] What I know about Pete Seeger was that in 1963 my mother bought an album called Children's Concert at Town Hall. I don't know what made her buy it and I don't know what she thought of his political views but she liked having music for us kids to listen to. I so vividly remember laying on the floor in our old farmhouse south of Greensburg listening to the record player.

We loved listening to
"Henry My Son"
"Here's to Cheshire, Here's to Cheese"
"Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal"
"I've Been Working on the Railroad"
"Riding in My Car"
"Put Your Finger in the Air"
"Michael Row the Boat Ashore"
"Be Kind to Your Parents"
"This Land is Your Land"
and others.

But our favorite song was "Abi Yoyo" - more of a story than a song and we listened to it over and over.

Years later I had the privilege of seeing Pete Seeger in concert at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. Pete Seeger's antiwar sentiments were right in line with the Mennonites. At one point he asked those of us in the audience to sing for him because he knew Mennonites could really sing acapella. So we all sang a song that we knew as "606" but was really called "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow." (This links to a pretty good video - I'm sure there are others) It is a beautiful song and especially when sung acapella by a large group of Mennonites.

I introduced my kids to Pete's songs and we discovered a book in the library "The Foolish Frog" and the song that went with it. My kids loved it. Nothing sticks in your memory quite like music. Farewell to a great musician. You will be missed.