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My Grandmother: A Memoir

Cecelia K. Jacquinot

Birth:30 Dec 1915 Greenbush, Ks

Parents: Napoleon J. Jacquinot & Elizabeth George

Marriage: 20 Oct 1936 to William  A. Halley, Greenbush, Ks

     Children: Sonya Ann, William Joseph and Joan Francis

 

My parents had nine children, I was number six. My childhood was spent growing up in Greenbush, Kansas farm land. We had a big two story farm house and a field of crops. My father grew corn and wheat, we also had every kind of farm animal you could have. From as far as I can remember I worked in the field, pulling weeds, planting seeds and using the cultivator. I remember my legs hardly reached the petals, at night my legs would hurt so bad I would craw behind the heating stove and fall asleep. My other jobs on the farm were: Raking hay, milk the cows and collect chicken eggs. When I was around 15, I was old enough to heard the cattle. I had a riding horse named Dan and he loved to go back to the barn, he would try to get his bridle off by rubbing it on a tree. Dan did not like two people ridding him; he would buck until one of us fell off.

My father spent his days in the field and my mother did all of the cleaning, cooking and took care of the vegetable garden. Before we had an ice box she would put the churned butter in a bucket and lower it into the well to keep it cool. My older sister Ollie made all of our clothes and tended to my younger sisters. Ollie had her own room; I shared a room with my younger sister Thelma.

We had no electricity back then and no indoor plumbing. We had an outhouse out back, if I had to use it at night time I never went alone. It was too dark even with an oil lamp.

We had two wells with pumps, one by the house and another one by the barn. My mother cooked on a wood stove and for heat we had a wood stove in the dining room that is the one I would craw behind.

I started school when I was 4. I hated school but my mother made me go, she said she had too much to do and it was the best thing for me. We use to walk a quarter mile to the school no matter what the weather was. I remember being teased, we were the only Catholics and the Protestant’s would call us cat lickers. I remember the Gypsy's would come by in their covered wagons and ask us for donations, we were just kids…what would we have?

We did not have much family time except for Sundays when we all went to church together. Between school and working on the farm all afternoon till evening we were too tired. My sister Ollie said to me years ago when we were remising “It’s a wonder we all survived”.

All the time I lived in Kansas I never seen a tornado but whenever there was a storm Ollie would sprinkle us with holy water. In the winter the snow would get so deep it was hard to open the house doors. 

My mother use to keep barrels of sour kraut among other things down in the cellar. I remember one time when my father put an injured pig down there, it was mean and I was afraid to go down there.

As I got older we still had no radio or electricity but we finally got a phone. My brother Cliff would call up central (operator) and ask them to turn on a radio so he could listen, we use to fight because he would not let anyone else listen.

Cliff was a big joker he would always sing…Old King Cole was a very old soul with a buck skin belly and a rubber a—hole!

My father died when I was 19 years old. I saw the whole thing happen. I was milking cows when my father was coming back on the mules (he went to a neighbor’s house to borrow something) he was sitting sideways on one of the mules. Something scared the mules and they started bucking. I could see my father bouncing up and down then I could not see him. I knew something was wrong; I called out to my brother who was in the barn harnessing the horses. We went running to my father he was twisted up in the harnesses. Frank hollered for my mother and she came running. My father was lying in the field still alive but choking on his tobacco. My father was taken to the hospital, he was in bad shape, and his broken ribs were torn from his back bone. He lived for another six days, he was 56 years old. There were no funeral homes then so we had the viewing at our home, in our living room.

Cliff and my other brother Frank took over running the farm, although Frank thought he was the boss.

I met my husband at a dance in Girard at the east side square. In the middle of the east side square was a court house where the dances were held. This was during the depression so this was mostly what we did for entertainment. We would all get together and go downtown…dancing.

At the time he was working for the WPA (working on roads). We were married on October 20th 1936, we did not have much money, we could not afford a church wedding so we got married on the farm.  We did not have a honeymoon.

The farm was sold and my mother and younger sisters moved down the road, Bill and I moved to a one room apartment in town. I had my first child, Sonya in August of 1938. When Sonya was little we rented a house on a farm. Neighbors gave us chickens, cows and pigs. There I was milking cows again. We finally bought a car a Model A Roster. Bill raised tomatoes plants in cartons and went around the county selling them.

Bill got a job at Cessna airplane factory in Wichita, Kansas so we moved there. I got a job at the Beach craft airplane factory, I was a riveter. I did not like it but it was a job.

I was pregnant with my second child, your father, William when Bill was drafted to the Navy. I moved back home to Girard to live with my mother. I stayed there for awhile, then shortly after your father was born; Bill wanted me to move to Colorado where his family lived so I did.

Bill decided to make the Navy his career. We traveled a lot. I was pregnant with my third child, Joan when Bill was stationed in Memphis, Tennessee; we lived in a trailer on the base. It was hard being pregnant and living on the base, the bathrooms were at the barricades that were like a mile away,

I was told after your father was born not to have any more children but I took a chance. I went home at one time to visit my mother I was not showing yet and I did not tell her I was expecting. Sonya and your Dad knew but they never said a word. When Joan was born Bill called my mother and told her…she was dumbfounded because she had no idea!

I lived in Virginia for a time when Bill was stationed there. Then Bill was transferred to Navfac (Naval Facilities Engineering Command) in New Jersey. We lived in a rented cottage by the cove; I got a job at Wheaton’s. We did not have a car so I had to walk. I worked at night it was scary. We finally bought a car but I did not know how to drive, the lady who rented the cottage next to us taught me.

Bill was stationed there as an electrical engineer so we had a house built, that was in 1952. Fifty seven years ago! And I still live here; I have had the same phone number too!

Bill passed away in 1979 and Joanie passed away in 2003, I miss them both.

Out of nine of us children there is only me and my younger sister Loretta “Sis” left, she is 86 years old now and I am 94.

I have 12 grand children and 18 great grand children.

 

 

Written by Kathleen, Cecelia’s 5th grandchild, as told to by Cecelia                                  

 

 

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