Written by my grandmother, Hazel Florence Browne (Curtis) born Feb. 22, 1892, died 1982.
How would you like a story today about when your mother was a little girl? We thought she was pretty cute.
When she was eleven months old, her dad (your grandpa (Vera D. Curtiis)) came in from work to snatch a cookie or two. When he came in the living room, our little Martha LaVerne (that is what we called her at first), took her first three steps, so her daddy didn't go back to work for quite a while. He got over at one end of the living room and I went to the other end, and we let her walk back and forth; and she was so pleased with her new accomplishment. Vera went and got the Kodak and we took her out on the south porch where the light was good and got a good picture of her first steps.
When she was about two years old, she had trouble making the sound of the letter "s". She used the letter "p" instead. She called her doll "pweet heart" and a suitcase was "pootcase". When I wanted her to do something, she would say "pretty poon". She liked to go places in our old Model T Ford and if she heard us say "Go", she would come out carrying her "pootcase" which was about half as big as she was.
She wasn't very old when she decided to work on the almond huller (a system of conveyors and machinery to hull and clean the almonds) to earn a doll which she had picked out of Montgomery Ward's Catalogue. She worked hard until she had earned enough money. Then we ordered her doll and got a letter that Ward's had to send to their Chicago store and the doll would not come until later. She surely watched every mail until "Sweet Heart" came.
We lived in Nevada County, California; in the Sierra Nevada foothills, from the time she was two until she was nine. She didn't have any playmates living nearby, so she was pretty good about amusing herself. She used to take some of her playthings out to a little clump of manzanita bushes not far from the back of our house. She called that place "Mrs. Bunny's House".
Another game was "dressing up". She would get all sorts of things out of the rag bag for her costumes. One day she climbed up on a big, old cedar stump and her daddy took her picture in her dress-up outfit.
When she was old enough to go to school, she went to the Chicago Park School. Her teacher, Mrs. Weeks, lived in Grass Valley and passed our place when she went to school. LaVerne met her down at our front gate and rode to school with her. It was the same school that I had taught at about ten years before that time.
There were some big girls who were mean to her, so she was glad when we moved back to the ranch in Brooks. She was in the fifth grade then and Mrs. Eckhardt was her teacher. The school she went to was called Canon School. You know where that is--not far from your home.
I had a little sewing to do and while doing it planned another story. You know when I started writing your book I told you I had been procrastinating. Did you look that up in the dictionary?
In our school, long ago, we had some workbooks just as you do now. One was our writing book in which we were told to do a page a day. At the top of each page was a saying (an axiom or maxim) written in perfect handwriting which we were to copy, over and over, until the page was full. I think many of them were made up by Benjamin Franklin. One of them was "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today". The opposite of that saying would be "procrastinating".
Some others that have about the same meaning are--
"One today is worth two tomorrows" and "A stitch in time saves nine".
We all do too much procrastinating. When your mother was little and said "pretty poon" when I called her, that was what she was doing. I have a dress in a bureau drawer that I cut out two or three years ago and half finished and there it is--still in the bureau drawer.
When your mother calls you, or your sister, Nancy, to do some job, do I ever hear you say "As soon as my program is finished" or "in a minute" and maybe the minute turns out to be sixty minutes (one hour)?
ANOTHER PAL IN DELHI, MINNESOTA
I forgot to tell you about a little girl who was my best pal. Her name was Mabel Borg and we were the same age. There were two Borg families in Delhi, Minnesota, where we lived. Oscar Borg, Mabel's father, owned the hardware store in town. Their home was upstairs, above the store. There were cottonwood trees all along the west side of the store and a big lawn on the east side and a whole row of lilac bushes along the east side of the lawn.
Mabel was an only child and her father was doing well with his store so Mabel had many nice things to play with. One was a very nice velocipede and Mabel was generous and let me play with it often. (NOTE: "Velocipede" was a term that used to be used for the forerunner of today's bicycles).
Mabel's mother was a a good cook. One thing she made that I liked she called "Nothings". They were made like doughnuts only she cut a long strip of dough and twisted it. After she fried them, she dipped them in powdered sugar. They were not as sweet as doughnuts, but I liked them better. The Borgs were Swedish. The other Borg family was the John Borgs, and they owned the general merchandise store near by.
I had some little boyfriends also. The first admirer was a little Norwegian boy, Knute Knutson. We were not old enough to go to school yet. There were five wheat elevators in Delhi--two south of the depot and three north of the depot. Opposite the depot, across the side trace, was a lumber yard between the elevators. Along the north elevators and west of them was a meadow where pretty flowers grew. Knute and I used to go there and pick flowers. He would tell wild tales about his brave deeds. One was about killing a lion out back of his barn. He always gave me the boquets he picked. His father was the village blacksmith.
When I was in the third grade I picked a little Swedish boy for my boyfriend. He was a blue-eyed blonde with very, very blonde hair. His name was Oscar Lagerstrom, a cousin of Mabel Borg's. He was not interested in girls and I don't think he ever looked my way. He went on to Hollywood later and became a photographer.
NOTE FROM SHIRLEY: My grandma was wrong regarding the last paragraph of this Note. Her would-be boyfriend in third grade, Oscar Lagerstrom, did not become a photographer in Hollywood. He went to Hollywood and became a famous sound recordist/technician/engineer and winner of three Oscars. He can be found on the huge movie internet database site IMDB where it does indeed say he was born in 1890 in Delhi, Minnesota. He has a very impressive filmography. See link below: