Willrett Children Rememberances

Remembrances of growing up on the farm in Squaw Grove Township during the 1950s by H-BR graduates Peggy (65), Judy (66), Bonnie (68) and Don Willrett (70).

 

Peggy Remembers

  • Seeing Jay Williams farm with his horses
  • “Swimming” in the galvanized tubs and thinking it was great fun
  • Listening to and believing that Judy really did blow her nose in the curtains
  • Judy and I teasing Bonnie about what was under her bed
  • Being soooo very hot in our upstairs bedrooms
  • Sitting in front of Mom as she put our hair up in the tightest pin curls ever
  • Watching Lawrence Welk as Mom made those curls on Saturday night
  • Judy, Bonnie, and I wearing the matching dresses that Mom made for us
  • Always having to wear head scarves if it was a windy day
  • Drying our hair over the registers in the dining room or living room
  • Playing paper dolls and having the whole living room floor covered with their clothes
  • Roller skating in the corn crib in our skates that fastened with a key
  • Staying at Grandma Heinemeier’s house during the summer, playing cards or Pick-Up-Sticks with her, and walking to the dime store to buy something
  • Staying at Grandma Willrett’s house during the summer and getting to choose which bedroom I wanted to sleep in and listening to the morning doves when I woke up in the morning
  • Watching Grandma Willrett iron everything, even her slips and sheets
  • Having those wonderful root beer floats in the colored aluminum glasses on Grandma Willrett’s front porch – no root beer float since has tasted so good
  • Taking those long, boring rides in the country to look at crops
  • Getting to have rainbow sherbet cones at the Prince Castle in DeKalb
  • Feeling sick in the back seat of the car if someone ordered French fries at the Prince Castle
  • Riding the school bus – early one week pick-up one week and late the next
  • Always wearing dresses to school with snow pants under them in the winter
  • Laughing so hard with Elaine and Vincent McGirrr on the bus when it was our week to get dropped off last
  • Walking to Grandma Heinemeier’s house if we had choir practice or piano lessons
  • Getting Aileen Tiede to visit so that I would not have to play my piano lesson
  • Going to 4H club meetings and giving talks and doing demonstrations
  • Helping Mom cook and do things in the house so that I did not have to help outside
  • Driving the hay bailer for Dad and him getting mad because I could not stay on the row
  • Backing the car out of our old garage and hitting the side and tearing the bumper off and the having to drive out to the field and tell Dad what I had done
  • Going to visit the Bark’s and the Chapman’s and playing with their kids
  • Having “sleigh rides” with the old flair boxed wagon with the neighbors
  • “Ice skating” on the frozen water behind the barn – no skates, just boots
  • Eating brown sugar on freshly grown tomatoes – yum
  • Helping Mom and Grandma Heinemeier do sweet corn and watching Dad make sour cream cookies covered with cinnamon sugar
  • Cleaning eggs with sandpaper and weighing them before packing them into the egg cartons for the egg man
  • Going to Grandma Heinemeier’s for lunch when I worked at Bastian’s Supermarket – she always made me the best hamburgers
  • Grandpa Heinemeier making Doug and I laugh so hard at family dinners that he would get in trouble with Grandma
  • Wishing that I lived in town and not realizing how very lucky I was to live in the country

 

Judy remembers…

  • Making flower arrangements (mostly Queen Ann’s Lace) in empty banana split containers from the Tastee Freeze and selling them to Grandpa Willrett
  • Feeding the cats by whistling to have them come and then calling, “all you pigeons get out of here” in the barn
  • Doing rain dances so we would not have to pick beans
  • Going visiting to great grandparents’ houses and being told to “be seen and not heard” – no wonder we were all so socially inept
  • Riding through the poop run off that looked solid and getting stuck on my bike
  • Spending a week with each grandparent and great aunts during the summer by ourselves
  • When at the aunts’ house being able to go to the dime store and pick out something and going to the bank with Aunt Carrie and looking at a $100 bill, and they would always play Monopoly – this was in their awesome apartment over the bank
  • Blowing my nose on my curtain at night
  • Living through Don crying every day of his life until he was 15
  • Sticking liver under Bonnie’s plate before we went to Florida
  • Watching Dad break the chickens’ necks and hanging them from the clothesline and Mom burning off the pin feathers with that stuff in a can
  • Going to Jay’s with Dad and looking at the giant goldfish in the cow water tank
  • Climbing up the silo
  • Playing in the pig houses with the dutch doors
  • Roller skating in the corn crib
  • the Colonial ice cream truck that would stop
  • Uncle Edward coming to repair the TV in his Thunderbird
  • Getting to stay in town on Wednesdays for choir and piano lessons and having to remember which grandmas to go to
  • Playing pool in the garage with Grandpa Heinemeier

Bonnie remembers…

Summer meant…

  • using the metal cattle water trough beside the corn crib as our “swimming pool ” to soak in and cool off.
  • doing a rain dance when the sky was dark and stormy looking instead of getting the green beans picked in the garden.
  • driving the tractor pulling the baler while Dad stacked the bales on the hayrack.
  • listening to the meadow larks and red-winged blackbirds while driving the tractor raking hay.
  • playing house in the empty corn crib by hanging old blankets to create “rooms.”
  • eating mulberries off the tree on the Williams farm by standing on the hayrack parked under it.
  • taking my turn each summer to spend overnights on my own at Grandma Heinemeier’s and Grandma Willrett’s house.  Waking up to the cooing sound of morning doves.
  • playing dot-to-dot with Grandma Heinemeier on the chalkboard in the outside breezeway.  Learning to play pool with Grandpa Heinemeier in his garage.
  • playing solitaire and canasta with Grandma Willrett.
  • having root beer floats on Grandpa & Grandma Willrett’s screened porch when we came into town for the evening.
  • raising a baby Mallard duck under our apple trees which disappeared after being taken to live at the Williams’ farm.  Did a fox have duck for dinner?
  • roller skating on the side walks wearing our key-fastened skates.
  • netting butterflies to preserve and display.
  • doing 4-H projects in baking, sewing and showing cattle for the county fair.
  • going to the Chicago Stock Yards with Dad to sell a load of cattle.

 

Fall meant…

  • raking leaves into “room” outlines that made our leaf houses.
  • sitting alone on a hayrack behind the barn to watch sunsets.
  • cawing loudly like the crows while doing chicken chores and Dad coming to tell me to knock it off because I was stirring up the cattle in the feed lots.
  • riding our pony, Dusty, bareback in a picked corn field and falling off face first into the stubble because I couldn’t reign in the pony after he was spooked by our dog running up behind him.

 

Winter meant…

  • building caves and tunnels in the huge piles of snow made from plowing out the farm yard and our driveway.
  • playing King of the Mountain on our snow mounds.
  • “ice skating” on frozen ponds in the fields wearing my snow boots…no real skates needed. 
  • riding in the green wooden sled pulled behind the tractor.
  • holding a neighborhood sledding party with a tractor pulling a wagon bed attached to runners which tipped over turning a corner.  Mom and I ended up on the bottom of the pile of  people when all fell out.  Mom went to the hospital and had amnesia about the event.  I had a fat lip and bloody nose. 

 

Spring meant…

  • new Easter dresses, hats, shoes, and purses.
  • the birth of baby lambs to our sheep.  Shearing the wool off the sheep and always the ram butting us in the butt whenever we turned our back to him.
  • the arrival of baby chicks to put under heat lamps in the little red brooding house.
  • planting the vegetable garden.

 

Always there was…

  • my chicken chores…feeding, watering, and hunting the eggs.  Always wearing a scarf to cover all my hair, even the bangs, to keep it clean.  Always getting pecked on my feet by the chickens.  Always afraid of reaching into a nest and putting my finger into a soft-shelled egg.  Always afraid of the rats that were sometimes under the roosts.
  • playing with our dolls and the special clothes that Grandma Heinemeier made for them.  
  • playing farm toys with Don because Mom said I had to when I wanted to play dolls with Judy and Peggy.  
  • picking out my ballerina wallpaper for my bedroom.  I never got to take dance lessons though. 

 

Don remembers…

  • Growing up with family meals with all 6 of us around the table
  • Having to eat liver before we could go to Florida
  • Remembering Dad eating whole platefuls of tomatoes and cucumbers
  • Doing chicken chores with Bonnie, washing eggs, sorting eggs, but almost never doing dishes, and now I kind of enjoy doing dishes
  • Remembering Bonnie calling Paducah, KY (Packachua) on one of our trips to Florida
  • Hearing my sisters playing piano and singing and they were all pretty good!
  • Driving the baler for Dad, loading bales when I was older with Bonnie driving, mowing hay and having the bugs drive me nuts
  • Going to church as a family, sitting in the same pew always and watching almost everyone do the same thing
  • Watching Bonanza and Maverick with Dad
  • Picking peas and green beans with my sisters and Mom
  • Getting up early in the summer and going to the Chicago Stockyards with Dad and Grandpa Willrett
  • Playing pool in Grandpa Heinemeier’s garage was the best and trying not to hit their car with the pool sticks
  • Dad hitting fly balls to me between the old garage and the old machine shed
  • Hitting Bonnie with the croquet mallet after she told me to hit the ball real hard, but her head got in the way of my backswing – I always felt really bad
  • Visiting Mom and Dad in Florida numerous times and knowing how much they loved being down there
  • Remembering all the great meals and the great friendship that we had when filling silo and shelling corn
  • Mom’s great meatloaf and great German Potato Salad
  • Many great memories of growing up and many fond memories of all my sisters and Mom and Dad and all the great values and leadership and parenting they gave us all