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Prologue to "Hard Times"

    Written by Lena Brockman Manske's son, Dennis Manske

 

The following is a near verbatim reproduction of something my Mother wrote to list the times, good and bad, that she and Dad had survived. I think she wrote this sometime in the late 1970ís many years after Dad had died. Maybe it was her way of bringing closure to a large chapter in her life. Looking back on it now, I now see this closure as a necessary step for her to open a brand new chapter in her life, for in 1980 she remarried. It was as though she had to write this to put it to rest and give herself permission to remarry. But then, I could be wrong and maybe she just wanted to write it because she had the time.

 

The scrapbook was found when we cleaned out the house after Mom died. I guess I remember her showing it to me but I had forgotten.

The scrapbook contains many pictures and the text refers to those pictures many times. I have copied the text as it was written and where a picture occurred I have referred to it by [PICTURE] and given it a number and reference so it can be found in the appendix.

For the most part, I have followed the exact wording, spelling and grammar as put down by Mom. Only where the meaning would be unclear have I made appropriate adjustments.     Dennis Duane Manske

 

CHRONICLE OF HARD TIMES

As written by Lena Martha Hermina Brockman Manske.         Edited by her son, Dennis Manske

 

Our wedding day was October 4, 1931. We were married at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Osmond, Nebraska.  The wedding photo was taken at DeLux Studios, Norfolk, Nebraska, Sunday at 4 PM, On Oct 4, 1931. [PICTURES 1 & 2]

Following are excerpts from newspaper accounts:

The groom is the son of Mr. Herman Manske living northeast of Osmond and is deserving of all the good fortune that thrift and industry should merit. The bride, daughter of Herman Brockman, ...is an accomplished woman well versed in the duties of home and abundantly qualified for supervision of her domestic fireside.

 

....The church had been elaborately decorated in lavender and white. The sermon, based on Romans 12: 12 delivered by the local pastor admonished the young couple to ...rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation and to continue instant in prayer. The church was filled to capacity. Her wedding gown was made up of white silk, satin trimmed with silk lace and net. She wore a white net veil trimmed with lace and orange blossoms. She carried a bouquet of carnations and American Beauty roses. The groom, Mr. Manske and his attendant...wore the conventional black.

    Another newspaper account stated:

A pretty wedding took place Sunday at the Lutheran church when Alfred Manske and Lena Brockemeier (sp) were united in marriage by the pastor, the Rev. J. Holstein. The bride wore a white satin frock and veil and carried a huge bouquet of roses. She was attended by Hilda Brockemeier attired in orchid georgette, and two little flower girls, Mildred Lorenz and Elaine Fuelberth, clad in green. Earl Schlect acted as groomsman.

 

EDITORS NOTE: From time to time I will insert notes of explanation or personal comment. When that is done, I will try to explain the source of the information which follows that note. For example, one of the newspaper accounts had Dad listed as Albert (Should be Alfred) Manske and the other called Mom, Lena Brockemeier (misspelled). Oh well, I guess everyone who cared, knew who the players were.

 

The following was not written on the pages of the scrapbook but appeared on the back of a 1978 Church calendar and those pages were loose in the scrapbook. It was written in Motherís very distinctive and unmistakable handwriting (clearly distinguishable from Dadís left-handed gothic or Belvaís, Kennardís or my scribble).

 

We were married on a Sunday afternoon at 2:30 at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Osmond, Nebr. Pastor Eric Holstein preformed the Ceremony. Our Wedding Text was Romans Chap 12. v.12. Rejoicing in Hope, Patient in Tribulation, Continuing Instant in Prayer. The Congregation sang Hymns Ė "Our Lord & God, Oh Bless this Day" and "Yea, as I live Jehovah Saith". The Choir sang: "Jesus Savior Pilot Me".

We both were members of the choir & League. Therefore, they decorated the church for our wedding with streamers of lavender, green and white and ferns and garden flowers.

 

We walked down the aisle together. My wedding gown was of white satin, a long waist line with a shirred front. A low V neckline and sleeveless. A gathered skirt with 3 in. lace at the bottom and an over skirt of silk net with a hem of points all around. In each point was small spray of orange blossoms.

 

I made my full length veil of silk net and it had a 3 in. silk lace all around. It was a hooded veil with a lace ruffle across the top this was edged with the 3 in. lace and rhinestones and artificial orange blossoms. The cap was brought together at the back of neck with tiny orange blossoms.

 

My bouquet was red roses and fern & baby breath. Satin streamers fled from the bouquet with tiny rose buds at the ends. I wore white kid pumps with spike heels and painted toes. My only jewelry was a white gold necklace, a gift of the groom. Al wore a navy blue suit and vest with wide lapels and bell-bottom trousers. He had a rose boutonniere and fern leaf. Black square toe oxfords.

 

My bridesmaid was my cousin, Hilda Broeker. She wore a Lavender long crepe lesheen overskirt dress with long bell sleeves. She also carried a bouquet of roses, baby breath & fern leaves. Both bouquets were tied with wide white satin bows.

 

My two flower girls were my nieces Elaine Fuelberth and Mildred Lorenz. They wore pale green voile dresses trimmed in lace & tiny peach bows, patent leather one strap slippers & anklets. They carried...

EDITORS NOTE: This is where this handwritten account ended.

Continuing from the scrapbook:

 

The sermon delivered was based on Romans Chap. 12, V. 12 admonishing us to rejoice in hope be patient in tribulation and  continue instant in prayer. "Jesus Savior Pilot Me" was the hymn sung by the Immanuel Lutheran Choir.

Our Honeymoon was short and sweet. A night in a cabin in Bassett, Nebraska and at various points in South Dakota. 

Our first home with my dear old Daddy in his little farm home. October 4, 1931 till Feb 1, 1932. [PICTURE 3]

 

 EDITORS NOTE: How prescient the Pastorís admonishment, to be patient in tribulation and instant in prayer, as you will soon see.

 

OUR HOME

 

We moved here Feb 1, 1932 by team and wagon. Our start on the farm was 4 horses, 3 cows, 5 hogs, 3 sheep, 3 doz. chickens and all horse-drawn machinery. [PICTURE 4]

Our house was new and modern, including lights and water. Our furniture consisted of a new ivory range, a new dining room suite, and a new bedroom suite. Our kitchen table and chairs were old, the table being my Motherís first table. A spare bed and dresser I had at home.

 

Our car was a 1928 Chevrolet Coupe.

Our life began with much hopes, but luck was against us. We lost, as we raised hardly enough to feed our stock.  But God was with us and kept us in good health, and gladdened our hearts with a gift of a darling daughter, Belva Joan. She came to make her home with us on a cold snowy morn of Dec. 16, 7:30 AM, 1932. She weighed 7 1/2 lbs., had brown hair and bright blue eyes.

Her Aunt Bertha made her feel at home by caring for her the first week of her life. When 3 weeks of age she was baptized in the Lutheran Church in Pierce by Rev. Scheips on Jan. 8, 1933. Her Aunt Bertha Fuelberth and Uncle Lorenz Fuelberth were her Sponsers.

MARCH 1, 1933

We moved our property to Grandpa Manske. We stayed there 10 days. And with his help we found this home 3 miles north of his home. [PICTURE 5]

EDITORS NOTE: As near as I can figure this would put it about 8 miles West and 4 miles North of Randolph.

Our new address was McLean, Nebr. The home was again a new place, the house a six- room bungalow, very cozy. Kerosene lamps were the lighting system in the house. All our water was carried from a well 2 blocks from the house.

The year 1933 was a fair year. We had very little to operate on, but managed to get our crop in and tended, with old horses doing the work. All went well, until on a Thursday eve July 8 a hailstorm completely wiped out all we had worked for all summer. But we kept up our courage, and cut our corn stalks & late grasses to tide over our few cows & other stock. And we still lived very happily on, as we had our good health. And our little daughter, now a year old, was seeing life very interesting. She now could walk very nicely. And with the family dog, Buster, and six or more kittens as pets, she kept very busy. Shortly after her first birthday she became ill with whooping and, with her Daddy acting as the family Doc most of the time, she came thru it fine. [PICTURES 6 & 7]

Such ended 1933 and we looked with new hopes into the New Year.

-1934 -

This year will be remembered by all as a very trying time. The year began with prospects of a good crop as we had considerable moisture. But as Spring approached, no rain came. Grasshoppers came by clouds. Huge dust storms rolled over our homeland. Everyone looked to the skies for rain. When a cloud appeared it just was a sprinkle or another dust storm.

So on and during the summer. Fall came and we cut the short crop of corn for fodder. No one had grain for feed. There was none to be bought on the markets. Cotton seed cake and other substitutes were fed the stock. Corn was brought in from So. America, but very little of it. We, operating on a small scale, had no chance of getting any. We sold all of the hogs before they were ready, receiving 7 and 8 cents per hundred pounds for them. We had nothing again to go on but God again provided. Government jobs were let.  Al was put on 2 days a week C.W.A),building roads, driving each morning 5 miles and being on the job at 8 A.M.  Was a hard job, illness was not excusable.  A job was a big item. This paid $9.00 for two days. This kept us very nicely through the winter. Every Monday we would go to Osmond and buy groceries for the week, including a few extras as bananas, a jar of honey, and spearmint gum.

-1935-

Again, new hopes were with us and was sure if a good crop was in store for us, it would help us to again be on top. Depression had a start in this country. Government loans were granted. A seed loan helped us this spring. We were lucky in having a fine hog crop. But our horse power was slowly failing. Then we bought a tractor; a second hand Fordson. It was in good condition and we paid $80 for it.

EDITORS NOTE: The only thing Dad saved from this tractor was one of the tool boxes. I have that toolbox now.

 

Rain was plentiful and crops were very good. We loved the farm. Our mules, Jerry & Hazel, the old big team of horses, Frank and May, the three cows and three sheep meant all the world to us. They were part of our life and, oftentimes theyíd seem to know it was up to them to keep us going.

We now were able to see our way out. We seemed to now have the necessary things in life. We then bought Belva (now 3 yrs) her first new winter outfit; red coat, muff and cap, and new shoes of which she seems very proud. We also now bought a 1925 Model T Touring car. It was a dandy, ran like new. We enjoyed being able to go now again. [PICTURE 8] We raised a good crop. Corn made about 40 to 50 bushel per acre. (Price 33 cents, oats 19 cents). Faye Chapman helped us pick corn that Fall.

-1936-

Times were getting hard, prices going down. This was the year of the Roosevelt Administration. All kinds of relief was being put out to keep the farmers going. This year will be remembered by many as it was the year of drouth, sand storms and grasshoppers. The spring was normal as to moisture. Crops were put in until June. Then came the heat and no rains. Temperatures day after day from 108 to 118. Crops were drying up. Winds and dust storms were frequent. We tried to carry on and hoped a rain would come soon. Al would cultivate corn with his horses from 4 AM til 9 AM when the horses could not stand the extreme heat. So he would again go out about 4 PM til dark.

Meanwhile, Belva and I would try and find a cool place, as she was too small to play out in the terrific heat. And I wasnít much count; but happy, and busy getting sewing finished, as in August we were expecting a new arrival to join our family.

By now there wasnít much left. Gardens were gone. One day in July, Charlie Ayers (our good old neighbor) thought weíd all go to the circus in Norfolk. July 8, a terrific hot day. We saw the circus in Norfolk; so hot that many people fainted from the heat in the tent. This was my first circus I had ever been to. We enjoyed it so much. Coming home there was a dark rain cloud. All were happy, just to have a cloud come in the sky, to get away from the intense heat. But by evening it had all disappeared.

We slept outside as it was too hot inside to get any rest.

Belva didnít seem to mind it too much. She was always well and full of pep, busy with her cat and dog, "Sportie". And the chickens--gathering eggs every chance she could get to the hen house. [PICTURE 9]

Then one Sunday morning, August 23, at 3 AM we were notified of our new arrival very soon. At 5 AM, Al dressed Belva and took her to our neighbors, Jack Schlack (of which she was very curious). Then Dr. R. E. Johnson (our Doctor) came to our home. And by 7 AM Sunday morning we welcomed to our family a bouncing baby boy. Weighing 8 lb. 4 oz. And a fat chubby fellow with a healthy set of lungs.

We were so very happy to have a boy and a girl in our family. Mrs. Ward (a neighbor lady) cared for the new baby and me for three days. Then Freida Dibbert came to work for us. She stayed with us three weeks.

On Sept. 20, we had our baby baptized in the Lutheran Church in Osmond, Nebr. Rev. E. Holstein was the Pastor. We named him Kennard Alfred. His sponsors were his Aunt Frieda Lorenz and his Uncle Arthur Manske. This picture was taken the day of Kennardís baptism. [PICTURE 10 & 11]  Our hired girl (Frieda) is holding him clothed in the dress he wore for his baptism.

Aug. 25 we got our first shower of rain since June. But it came too late to help crops. But gave much relief from the heat of the summer.

We enjoyed the Fall. Kennard was a good baby, and grew like a weed. We had lots of fun with Freida. She was a wonderful girl. Al worked on road work by McLean. This helped us out as to living expenses. We had but one cow to milk. She was very generous in presenting us with a new calf the same day as Kennard was born. She must of sensed Mommie and the new baby were in need of all the milk she could produce.

Then came the Fall and the Winter. Work on the road was ended. No crops, no feed. No feed to be bought with the exception of once in a while one could get Argentinian corn. Then just a portion to a customer. Relief of all sorts was given. It was then we were allowed monthly grants of $8.00 per mo. And we had some roughage in the fields for which we received $10 per mo.

We were also notified that we must move in the Spring. This was an awful jolt as this had been our home for 4 years and we loved it very much. But it was for us to keep up our chins and find a new home. We had a very slim chance, as we had hardly enuf to keep on farming with and places were scarce.

The winter was one of the worst in history. Snow and more snow. Blizzards every day. Temperatures from zero to 27 below day after day. Fuel was a problem. Coal was rationed. One couldnít get over 500 lbs at a time. Roads were blocked. We couldnít get thru with our team of mules. One Saturday, Al took Belvaís sled and walked to McLean. Followed the railroad, and guided by farm house lights, he made it home late. On the sled was 1 gal. kerosene for lamps, 50 lbs chicken feed, a small sack of coal, a few necessary groceries and a few bananas & spearmint gum (Belvaís delight). And a big pack of mail from several weeks which was really welcome as we had no radio or telephone. [PICTURES 12 & 13]

-1937-

We had taken in 25 of Brother-in-Lawís cows in for feed, getting $25 a month. This really was a God send.

Spring was nearly here and we had no place to go.

March 1 we moved all of our property to Brother. Billís place west of us, storing our furniture in his garage. We lost one of our horses then, leaving us with 2.

We finally found a farm south of Osmond. Sandy soil, and poor farm land but it was a home again for us. I and the children stayed with Sister Frieda. Above picture is of Kennard taken at Freidaís. [PICTURE 14] He now was 7 months and was a good baby. We stayed there 2 weeks Meanwhile, Al was out getting things completed so we could finally get moved. Brother-in-Law Lorenz loaned us $40 for a rent payment.

Our best mule, Jerry, also died, and we lost a number of our laying hens in the moving them to Billís place.

We then obtained a Farm Security Loan of $500, allowing us to buy more stock and necessary items to farm. this was our home, a two room house, not plastered. We managed to get our things packed in it and it was made as home-like as possible. We then bought 2 more cows, 2 horses, a brood sow, and we again thought we were setting okay. We still received the $8 per mo. grants to buy our groceries with. Kennard learned to walk in this house. He celebrated his first birthday here. [PICTURE 15]

EDITORS NOTE: I certainly hope the picture of this shack that they lived in comes out clearly. It looked like something a tornado abandoned and dropped on the prairie.

AUGUST 23, 1937:

Kennard's 1st birthday. [PICTURE 16] His cake was a tiny one with one candle on it. After the picture he ate the chocolate frosting from it. Cakes were his delight, or rather, any good food.

Prospects for a crop were good until Aug 15 came a hot wind which again ruined our corn crop. Chances for us to keep on farming were slim. Al worked for some cousins and Brother-in Laws whenever he could. And in Nov. we moved across the road into this house. [PICTURE 17]

EDITORS NOTE: This was a better looking house, two story, and looked as though it had real doors and windows.

Erv & Frieda were farming the land. We couldnít stay in the other shack in the winter as it wasnít plastered.

The winter of 1937-38 we tried so hard to find a way and a decent farm to keep on going but could not. So the 21 of March, 1938, we sold everything and turned it back on our Farm Security Loan. It was not for us, as they wouldnít allow one to have a decent living and it was too much to quit on. This was a hard decision. All we had ever worked for was gone. We had nothing left to say but "It is over."

But we still had our health, two healthy youngsters and Faith that God was again to lead us to where we were to live. We had no means of a living but whenever we needed the necessary wherewith, Al would find a job and we could again eat. These were the times when the ever loving bible passage would run thru my mind time again, "Consider the Lilies, they toil not, they spin not." "And ye know that your heavenly father knows that ye have need of these".

So it was, Godís word proved time and again its truth and we canít go on as we like. God has it planned for our good. Maybe for our childrenís sake we may have to have these worldly troubles.

To my mind would come...Why was our wedding text Romans 12, v 12; ...Rejoicing in hope, be patient in tribulation and continue constant in prayer? Many, many times this came to me. Why had the Minister chosen it for us? God only knew it was meant for us at the time.

Jobs were hard to find. It was nearly spring and we still hadnít found a thing.

But the first part of April we found a farm job at Hoskins. Al was going to work for Lyle Marotz. April 5 we moved to this house. [PICTURE 18] It was like a dream. This was a nice home. Al got $30 a month, our milk and we raised a few chickens. We had a good living, but Al worked long hours and every other Sunday. We had no car, so rode to Norfolk on Saturday with the other hired man for groceries. $5.00 worth of groceries would do us 2 weeks. We had our Church membership now transferred from Osmond to Lutheran Church in Hoskins, Rev. Bittorf being the Pastor. [PICTURE 19] We were getting along nicely when Al got an infection on his neck from a ring worm he got from a calf. We had no car and the boss or his wife would take him to the Dr. until it turned so bad that Dr. Brauer operated on him. This called for a trip to the Dr. once a day and some layoff from work.

Alís Dad was so kind then as to let us have his 1930 Chevie Coupe. We had his car all the while we were at Hoskins. Al got well again real soon, and everything was fine. One summer I milked the bossís cows each nite so we all might get thru a little earlier.

-1938-

We had fuel we could pick up in their grove. I had no washing machine, so I would go over and wash her baby clothes on Fridays and then do my washing with her electric washer, and scrub her basement.

Belva and Kennard were growing up. Belva was a good little helper by now. Kennard would love to run off and play on the bossís tractor- picture 20.  Kennard and Treves, the Bossís white collie and our black kitty, picture 21. Belva, Patty & Kennard; Kennardís first overalls, picture 22] He always tried to keep up with the girls, but just was too fat to do much running. PICTURES 20, 21, & 22 all on the same page.

There was a celebration in Hoskins one day and picture to right shows Al and Bossís pony he rode in the parade. [PICTURE 23] One Sunday we rode to the school picnic with the boss and Kennard smashed his finger in his car door. And one day he lost a shoe as he always kicked them off. We were driving thru water, and not knowing it, Kenny sent one of his shoes as a boat. Never did find the shoe.  But these were all happy memories.

In the Fall of 1938 another big day was coming. Belva was now 5 years and in Sept. she started to school. She had to walk a mile and a half. Here she goes, the first day, a new dress, new dinner pail, and a new pencil box. Her teacher was Miss Langenberg, Dist. 60, Wayne Co. [PICTURE 24 & 25]

She was real happy about it, but I felt tears as I sent her on her way. To think, our little girl was growing up and from now on most of her time would be spent in school. But hiding the tears, I was very, very proud as she was a bright little girl.  Her first Christmas program, she and another little girl wore formals and sang a duet and danced.

-1939-

Now 1938 had passed and 1939 was starting out with much to look forward to. The boss gave us a raise of $5.00 and some meat. We had a nice bunch of brown leghorns. As for a living we lacked nothing. I was making plans for a new arrival in Sept. We could hardly afford it, but God so planned. The following summer wasnít so good. Corn was being cut early for feed. Our boss fed cattle and much feed was always put up for them.

Fall had come and Al was gone day after day cutting corn. I was hoping our little newcomer would come when he was at home.

Then early one Sunday morning we were notified as to its coming. Sunday was Alís day off. He took Belva & Kennard to our good friends PiwenitzskyŪs, and called Dr. Brauer from Norfolk. Al was getting mighty nervous as Dr. was hard to get, but he and the nurse arrived at 5 PM and at about 6:30 PM we welcomed a new baby boy. There were tense moments as our baby had almost not lived. But with the skill of Dr. Brauer and Magadene (his nurse) he was brought to me; a bright-eyed baby.

Mary Piwenitzsky came then & stayed with me while Al & Bill (Piwenitzsky) went to get Sister Bertha. Aunt Bertha cared for us for almost a week. She worked much with the baby. It took almost 2 days before we got him warmed up and got his circulation started. I could only hold him close and thank God, as a few minutes more we may not of had him.

Belva & Kennard were pleased with their new little brother. He weighed 8 lb 4 oz., had blond hair and blue eyes. We named him Dennis Duane. His Aunt Lela Manske cared for him a few days till we got a hired girl, Virgie Carstens who came and worked for us 3 weeks.

On Oct 15 he was baptized in the Lutheran Church in Hoskins. His Aunt Erna Fuelberth and Uncle Erv Lorenz were his sponsors. Rev. Bittorf baptized him. Dennis wore the dress I was baptized in 30 years ago. The dress was made by my Mother. White with wide lace yoke. And, the skirt was long with a hemstitched insertion. I added some pink & blue ribbon. [PICTURES 26 & 27]

EDITORS NOTE: My Mothers chronicle ended here; I donít know if she ever intended to go further or if time just got away from her. There is certainly more to the story and perhaps someone will tell it. Belva probably has the best handle on it and if she writes it perhaps I can type it up. It would include more moves, such as moving back to Grandpa Manskeís place, then to Norfolk where Dad took a job with the railroad. The "Good War" (as Studs Terkel called it) came and war rationing and "Shoppers Guide" and two different houses in Norfolk and Skippy, Pudgy and Bluey and the move to Wakefield and then Wayne and more; more than enough to bore the average archivist. Abundant wealth always eluded the family but somehow we ...rejoiced in Hope, were patient (sometimes) in tribulation and continued constant in prayer...

The continuation will obviously include marriages, births, deaths, highs, lows, and in-betweens. It would list a family growing by marriages, by the births of seven grandchildren, and a yet uncompleted number of great-grandchildren, and also the inevitable shrinking by deaths: Dad (July 5, 1965), Kennard (April 3, 1982), Dale, (Belvaís husband, December 17, 1993), Mom (November 30, 1994). I think, and I believe that Belva agrees, that it is a chronicle that bears relating. Sure, it is just another story of another family but it is "our" family; maybe every family story should be reduced to writing so the survivors know where they came from and where they got the "joy of life" they now enjoy.