PLEASE (Family Portraits)
LARKSFIELD PRESS LARGE PRINT BOOKS
Say Cheese, Please (Family Portraits) 2000 Nelda Kell All rights reserved by the author and her heirs.
Editing assistance: Rita Pearce
Layout and technical assistance: Terryl M. Asla
Published as a public service by I, Witness to History, The Online Library of our Lives, a program of The Cramer Reed Center for Successful Aging, 7373 East 29th Street North, Wichita, Kansas 67226. 1-888-755-9841 We encourage you to download this large print book from our website, http://iwitnesstohistory.org, and print it out for the education and enjoyment of yourself and others subject to the following conditions:
1) The publication may not be altered in any way. 2) Reproductions of this book may not be sold for profit without prior written
permission. LARKSFIELD PRESS is a trademark of The Cramer Reed Center for Successful Aging, a not-for-profit applied research center on aging.
With thanks to the capable, cheerful cooperation of the Resource Learning Center personnel at Larksfield
Place this, my life work, has finally been publishedmy dream come true.
Nelda Kell, December, 2000
Table of Contents
THE PLACE TO BE ..... 1
FAMILY PORTRAITS... 9
MY MOTHER. 9
OTHERS IN MOTHERS FAMILY... 19
MY DAD... .23
EMILY, MY SISTER .... 32
OUR GRANDMA..... .39
KANSAS PIONEER.. 43
A TIME OF GENTLENESS 47
RODA-TA-DODAST GEMS... 53
PRECIOUS MOMENTS.. 66
GRANDMA SPEAKETH 67
KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR.... 79
AFTER WORD.... 91
1 Nelda Kell
THE PLACE TO BE "This is the place to be." How often I heard that from friends who
lived at Larksfield Place in Wichita, Kansas! Even in the early years when everything was just getting started.
My husband, Jim, and I had looked at many retirement places so I knew he had something like this in mind for our future. We had been present at the groundbreaking for Larksfield Place and had made an investment in its beginnings. Therefore, when I lost my dear one in April of '96 after almost 64 years of marriage, it was probably natural, at least, for me to look into the possibility. We had just spent almost three years in Kingman, Arizona where our Granddaughter and family were caring for my husband, who had Alzheimer's. I was living in an apartment equidistant from the hospital to where they were.
I could write a book about those three years but that isn't the subject here, so I'll say simply that Jim got love and that is so important for us all whether we're in good health or bad.
In late May of '96, I made a trip to Kansas with the intention of deciding what I should do with the remainder of my life. I, of course, visited Larksfield Place and when Sharon showed me this apartment overlooking the lake, I seemed to feel that this is where Jim would want me to be. He loved the water and I'm sure this would have been his choice, too.
There were at least two deciding factors for my decision to move back to Kansas. First of all, I would be taken care of and my family would not ever have to worry about me. Then, secondly, a prairie-born child such as I, would be returning to the prairie for, as Dorothy put it, "There's no place like home."
Even with all the "This is the place to be", I was not aware of all the amenities afforded here. I will speak of only one and that is the "Resource Center." We were urged to write something of our early years for the "I, Witness To History" program as so many of our grandchildren know nothing of a world without air conditioning, computers, and all the electric gadgets we all take for granted. We were urged to find pictures to illustrate what we wrote about. That
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was a difficult one for me, as the only picture I found was of a telephone like I used to know about back in the '20s. I found a picture of a washing machine that was operated by a handle that you moved back and forth, but the picture left a lot to be desired. I, nevertheless, turned in my piece, which I had titled "A Time of Gentleness."
Because of this piece, I was introduced to Rita Pearce, a Wichita State University student who was working on a master's degree in Communication, which she has since acquired. Much to my surprise, she asked for an interview, which she would tape. Then, she asked how many copies of the tape I would like. All this was far more than I would ever have dreamed or imagined.
But, when you get to know Rita, you know she doesn't stop with halfway measures. The next surprise was that she had me come in and read a paragraph into the computer. Then, a day or so later, she presented me with a taped copy of our
So, I had in hand my original piece, which she had made copies of, plus the typed-up tape conversation. Somewhere at this point or a little later, I invited Rita to have lunch with me and she asked me to bring other things I'd written.
Again, this was a surprise to me but I've learned that Rita is full of surprisessuch a thoughtful, capable, and dear person. She typed or scanned all my stuff, even asking if I would like to include something I'd mentioned in our interview. So, with a few changes here and there, I can have the whole in book form to pass on to my family. Thank you very much, Rita, as I know what a tremendous task this has been.
Larksfield Place, Wichita, Kansas.
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So much of our interview were things I had already written, so, to avoid too much repetition, I will give my answers to only the questions she asked that will not be found in the rest of the text.
Rita asked about childhood diseases and I said that as I look back, that they were probably worse then than they are now. I had the chicken pox and still have a mark on my nose where I must have dug the pox off.
In our discussion of the Harvey House, I stated that Jim, his mother, and his sister all worked at the Harvey House in Syracuse, Kansas. Jim was just a boy and they all told of many wonderful experiences they had. One of Jim's jobs was to take the paddles out of the ice cream maker. This, of course, was a great job as he got to lick the paddles. He also brought in the heavy cream. We don't see heavy cream like that any morealmost like butter. He could sample that, too, so he liked that kind of job. The manager's name was Bounty. On Jim's first day on the job, there were some fellows working outside with Jim and they were teasing him. They asked, "Did anybody tell you that you don't get paid for the first month?" Jim didn't know what to say about that but, all of a sudden, they all looked up and there was Bounty at the screen door, and he told them off.
I went to school in Florence, but I can't remember anything about first and second grades. In the third grade, I had a teacher who played favorites. My little friend and I were Mutt and Jeff because she was short and I was so tall. The teacher would bawl-out Beth about something and then take her on her lap and pet her. The thing I remember most about that teacher was that she slapped me. I had a circular comb I wore in my hair and I was combing my hairprobably while reading or studying, and she came back and slapped me.
In the fifth grade, we put on an operetta called "The Quest of the Pink Parasol" and Beth, my friend, was the main character. She did it beautifully. I don't remember what I was but I was in it, as music was my forte. Later I played piano for quartets and choruses.
When I was a junior, the coach asked me if I would start a Pep Club. Wonder of wonders, I was a cheerleader! One of my
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classmates was a cheerleader along with me. He had broken his neck so couldn't play sports but he was a wonderful fellow. He understood the game better than I did so he could tip me off when it was time to cheer.
High School was a wonderful time for me. We didn't have senior proms, but we did have senior banquets. Juniors fixed the food and I wrote to my fianc, Jim, about our menu. There was salad, meat, potatoes, bread, dessert, and drink. I told him we would be charging fifty cents. I asked in my letter, "Do you think that's too much?"
We were married in 1932 and the first child was born when we lived in Florence. We went to Dr. Hertzler in Newton. Hertzler was a famous name, but it was connected to Halstead rather than Newton. This doctor was related to the famous Dr. Hertzlera nephewI think. I don't think anybody can believe now what little it cost us to have a baby. We could go any time to see the doctor. He told us that the fee would be $25.00 for the whole thing, including delivery and any visits afterward. The Doctor said he preferred we pay as we went along, which we did, as Jim had paid $10.00 of the $25.00 when our little girl was born on September 3rd, 1933. He had said at the time that MOST people paid ahead. When he asked for his $25.00 after the baby came, Jim let him stew a bit, then reminded him that we had already paid some. His response was "That's right, you did. So FEW people pay ahead."
I think it was 1934 when we bought our first cara brand new Ford. Imagine getting a brand new car for $500.00. Jim bought a new car about every year thereafter as he was on the road all the time. The car we had when we got married was a Maxwell.
Before we were married and Jim was attending Dague Business College in Wichita, he worked at Livingston's Cafe for his meals and worked in a parking garage for a place to sleep. I think that cafe is still in businessrun by a son, no doubt. At the parking garage Jim had a roommate, Maurice Johnston, who "sold" him the Maxwell in exchange for a musical instrument and something else, I don't recall just what. The radiator overheated, but all we did was add water. That car got us by for quite a while.
Jim's job was as a traveling representative for the Wichita Eagle
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newspaper. He got that job when he finished his college training at Dague and he might have worked up to circulation manager. After a few years, the new manager named was the son of the former managerLong was his name and Frank was the son. Frank and Jim became very good friends. I don't believe Jim would have appreciated an inside job because he was a really good salesman and enjoyed going out in the field and working with people.
During the war, when we thought we weren't going to get gas and tires, Jim sold Britannica Juniors. He made night calls and was top salesman for Britannica in Kansas for one month. Because he seriously thought he might be out of a job because of gas and tires, he bought a shoe repair shop. It was on Douglas, close to Hillside and called "Ralph's." He bought the name "Ralph's," so when the man he bought it from wanted to start another shoe repair shop further east and call it "Ralph's," Jim thought he was going to have a law suit on his hands, but it was worked out without going that far. This business was lucrative enough that he bought three other shoe repair shops. One was on Harry and two were on 21st St. Jim was still with the Eagle but he had good help in all the shops and was able to learn the trade in his spare time.
There was an older man who took an interest in Jim and suggested a book called "Gold Ahead." I don't know who wrote the book but Jim read it and believed strongly in its philosophy. Jim believed so strongly in that philosophy that I used to call it his "Bible." I'm very thankful, now, that he had that vision because it has seen us through many difficult times.
Rita asked about Prohibition and this was my answer: I'm thankful for Prohibition because I was never confronted with anybody who wanted to give me a drink or insist that I drink. My church had the dry philosophy. The Methodist church was a forerunner in wanting people to be temperate and avoid those things. One time we had a party. I don't remember how old I was, but it was quite a party. Everyone knew each other at the dance. A fellow spiked the punch. I was so mad that I went home. We did not have any say-so, you know. He was forcing something on us and I didn't like that. My Mother belonged to the WCTU (Women's Christian Temperance Union). After Mother was gone, Dad told me
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that his doctor said he should drink a little wine, but he said, "I didn't, because I don't think Mother would approve." I thought that was sweet of him.
About the depression, my remarks to Rita were that I don't think I suffered much as my folks saw to it that I didn't. When I was away at school, it seemed as though every time I wrote home, I was asking for money. I remember seeing a dress in a store window that I fell in love with but I knew I couldn't have it because my folks couldn't afford it, so I didn't give them a hard time. I know I was aware of the depression, but, as far as suffering from it, I don't think I did.
My brother started to work when he was probably 12 years old. He had the idea that he was going to put himself through college. So, he always saved his money. He had jobs all that time, and when he went to the University of Kansas for five years, he had jobs there as well. He did something I know of very few doinghe sent money home for Dad to pay taxes on our properties or anything else important.
In talking with Rita about my piano playing, I had to admit that I have lost many of the skills I once had. My hands have gotten stiff, my eyes don't see as well as they used to, my brain doesn't always cooperate, and my hearing is getting a bit strange. But I still play because I think I should and it's a comfort to me. I'm very thankful
that my folks kept me at the piano. I also played the cello and I wish I had kept up on that. I played maybe one piece in a program and I guess I didn't like carrying it around. It was my music teacher's cello.
We got our little boy to go with our little girl in December 1936. We were living in Wichita by then and went back to Dr. My favorite picture of our two
children, Jeannine and Larry, 1939.
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Hertzler and the Newton hospital. I should add here that I don't remember the cost of hospitalization then but, of course, there was no insurance, and I stayed 10 days each timewhat a luxury!
I was teaching piano when our daughter was old enough to start piano but I thought I shouldn't be teaching her. I took her to a woman whose son had been a winner at the state piano contest and she had been his teacher. Our son, Larry, was probably two-and-a- half-years-old at that time, and we would take Jeannine to her lesson, let her out, then go back and get her. Maybe once or twice, we went in while the lesson was in progress and the teacher would say something like, "quarter, quarter, half note," teaching Jeannine the kinds of notes they were while she was playing. We thought Larry's comment so funny that it's worth repeating. We stopped to pick Jeannine up one day and Larry said something about this being the home of "Mrs. Carter, Carter,...