Junkman Interview

Taped interview by Stacy Richardson with Della Miller and Doris Fairbanks. Done at Lake Byron (Beadle County), South Dakota
Contributed by Harold Way and Lou (Miller) Richardson

The principals in this interview are as follows:
- Della (Junkman) Miller, daughter of William and May Junkman and wife of Wendell Miller. Spent most of her married life at Cresbard, S.D.
- Doris (Junkman) Fairbank, daughter of William and May Junkman and wife of Charles Fairbank. Spent most of her married life in Huron, S.D.
- Stacy Richardson - great-granddaughter May and William Junkman, granddaughter of Della and Wendell Miller, daughter of Lou Miller and Jerry Richardson

Della: I was born in Ellsworth, Wis., Feb. 27, 1905. There were eight kids and I was the sixth. Dave was the oldest, David…No, his name was Dade, D A D E. Then Douglas, Dorothy, Donald born the turn of the century, Darwin, then myself, Doris and Dana, who we called Pat.
Stacy: What was your father's name?
Della: William Paul Junkman.
Stacy: Where did he come from?
Della: Wisconsin. I don't know if he was born there or not. His father came from Germany.
Stacy: How about your mother's parents?
Della: Her mother was a Hamilton. And Doris says Grandma thought they were related to Alexander Hamilton, but I think she was mistaken. Jacobs was her last name and originally her name was Mary Jane. Her mother was killed. Now, I don't know if it was her brother or uncle, well, one of her relatives was drunk and drove the team and she fell out of the wagon and she was killed.
Stacy: I remember that. Was Grandma GG with them?
Della; I don't know. She wasn't hurt anyway, so I don't even know if she was with them.
Stacy; How old would she have been when her mother died?
Della: Doris, how old was mother when her mother died?
Doris: I think she was 4.
Della: You see we don't remember the same. You'll get two different stories.
Stacy: I'm sure you agree on the names of your brothers and sisters.
Della: Doris, what was Dave's name?
Doris: Dave.
Della: No Dade, D A D E. He didn't like it so he changed it to Dave. But you always know my version is the right one.
Stacy: So Grandma GG's father's name was Jacobs and his parents came from Germany?
Della: Dad's family came from Germany. Mother must have been partly English. Hamilton is English. She always said she was a Jew.
Doris: Until one day, I said, "We're Jewish" in front of Don and she backed down.
Della: Angie would be delighted, and Jacobs is a Jewish name. But no proof of…
Stacy: Were you both born in Wisconsin?
Della: No, she's a South Dakota product.
Stacy: When did you move from Wisconsin?
Della: I was 9 months old or maybe a year. Let's see, I wonder when they did come out here?
Doris: I wasn't born yet so it had to be…
Della: I was a baby. I wasn't registered and when I had to have a birth certificate, Mother was still alive. So I had her give me an affidavit that I was born. And those people would not take it.
Stacy: When was that?
Della: It was quite awhile before she died.
Stacy: You had all those years without have a birth…
Della: I wonder who I did write to. Anyway, I wrote to some authority and they wrote back that I had a…it was the year of the census and I was registered in that and from that source I got a birth certificate.
Doris: Your census was the state?
Della: South Dakota and the United States. It was probably one of the first. How long had they been taking census?
Stacy: So it would have been about 1906 when you moved out here?
Doris: But I was born in 1907 so...
Della: It must have been 1905.
Stacy: Why did they move to South Dakota, do you know?
Della: My dad was a harness maker, but he came out here and homesteaded 160 acres.
Doris: And somewhere in my things I have that. I may have given it to someone who keeps the genealogy. But it had Teddy Roosevelt's signature on the homestead…claim. What were they called? Claim?
Della: Yes, they had to live there six months out of the year.
Stacy: They would have come out here with horse and wagon?
Della: I don't know how they got here.
Stacy: You were a baby?
Della: Babies didn't mean anything. Babies were a dime a dozen.
Doris: She was the sixth child, you see. So they weren't young anymore. Mother was 23 before she was married.
Stacy: Where did you live for your childhood?
Della: Southwest of Blunt. No, southeast of Blunt, 14 miles out of Canning. I don't know how many miles from Canning to Blunt. Was it 19 miles?
Doris: The mailman came from Blunt to deliver the mail throughout that section. Many times we had ridden with the mailman to go out to the farm, which we thought was a ranch—160 acres. Very funny.
Stacy: How long did you live on the farm?
Della: I was in the second grade when we went back to Wisconsin and that's when we quit.
Stacy: You moved back to Wisconsin?
Doris: When Pat was a baby.
Stacy: So did your dad go back to harness making?
Della: No, we just moved every year because he wasn't a good farmer and I imagine they kicked him off. I don't know this…
Doris: I don't think so. Just don't mention that.
Della: Why not, she's after facts.
Doris: You're imagining that. That is not a fact. I think he had a thought of glory sometime soon, get rich quick. But he always went to the neighbors and visited and I suppose that's what happened.
Della: He was sick. Actually he was starting to die but we didn't know it then.
Stacy: What was that?
Doris: Reynolf's disease (Ray nolf's? Reye’s syndrome? )
Stacy: What's that?
Doris: It's sort of a hardening of the arteries or hardening of the whole system, but he was forever trying to get some help, some chiropractors or something like that. He was 56 when he died.
Stacy: Did you know him (to Lou)?
Lou: Oh no. Mother was 12 years old when he died.
Della: He died in March so I'd have been.. I'd have been 13.
Doris: I was in the third grade. Della, you weren't that much ahead of me, were you?
Della: Yes, but I was one grade ahead.
Doris: Oh yes. They were trying to make me skip, but I couldn't do it.
Della: I must have just turned 13.
Stacy: What do you remember about him?
Della: I'm going to say something that's quite nasty. I didn't like my dad. I was a brat. Teased then like I like to tease now. And the man was sick and that irritated him and he punished me just like any father would. So I didn't like him. He was picking on me.
Doris: In those days, the Saturday Evening Post had… there was this famous man, artist, what was his name?
Stacy: Norman Rockwell?
Doris: Yes, and he'd draw these fantastic things. And there was this little bulldog taking a little boy's pants off. And Della said to Pat, who was only 4, that that was him. So he'd cry. She'd tease him so much.
Della: All I had to do was look at him and that kid would start to cry.
Doris: This was your grandmother's acting, and she was a very good actress. And so Dad said, "Please don't do this anymore. I just don't want to hear this anymore."
Della: He never talked to me like that.
Doris: Oh, I remember him as gentle, of course. Anyway, Della didn't say anything, but she'd look at Pat and we were just going in to eat and Mother was using some old laths, worn out laths, really they were rotten. They were lying by the stove. You know our dining room and kitchen were all in one. So Della came through there and she did this to Pat…Ehhhhh, and he started to cry. So Dad was just behind her and he said, "That's enough," and he grabbed one of the laths and hit her and Della just went down as if she was really floored. And the lath hardly stayed together long enough to hit her and my Mother came up like a little bandy hen and said, "Don't you dare touch those children of mine." This is my story about Della.
Della: And it is a story.
Stacy: And you say it's all completely made up?
Della: Sure.
Doris: I've been able to tell it all these years.
Della: It is a good story.
Doris: This is your grandmother.
Stacy: So what other kinds of things do you remember about your early years, here in South Dakota or after you moved.
Della: The year that Dad died, we came to South Dakota in March.
Doris: We came back in October and we couldn't get into our own place. In March we would have gotten there. But in the meantime, we went over and tried to get them out, these renters, and of course, they held to their contract. He came back so mad. I think that had a great deal to do with taking sick. And it eventually took him.
Della: And we went to country school, 2 1/2 miles, which is quite a long walk for kids. So we drove, and we had a team of horses, which they interchanged, and the boys always driving and they never were satisfied with the horse walking and the horse caught on and he had to be loping and he'd lope about as fast as he'd walk. But it satisfied the boys.
Doris: In the winter they would take half of a sleigh, you know there are four runners on a wagon sleigh and they'd take the half, and of course, that's the way they brought us home from school. We lived down from the road and they'd unhook the horse. And we'd all get in and slide down the hill almost as far as the school was.
Della: I wondered if I'd imagined that. It was a low place.
Doris: And we'd do that every time. But, Della, afterward Charlie found out where we had lived and he took me there and I would say that the rise, which I thought was a mile from us was only…it couldn't have been more than a mile from us and the school house looked just about half a mile from there, so all these years we must have been telling the story when it wasn't true.
Della: It was 2 1/2 miles. I'm sure of that.
Doris: It didn't look very far.
Della: We wouldn't have had to walk.
Doris: We did walk it. I remember lots of times.
Della: We didn't.
Doris: You told me I mustn't get sleepy. That the snow... that we'd freeze.
Stacy: Just like Caddy Woodlawn.
Doris: Della always knew just what to do in the situation. She lives in her imagination.
Della: Even in those days.
Doris: She was quite truthful, but she did have an imagination.
Stacy: Really? And she's an actress?
Della; Of course. I could do anything.
Stacy: Like what?
Della: Act like that, only I didn't.
Stacy: You were always the smartest one in your class?
Doris: She was. She told me that years and years, she and another girl tied. But because she could not go on…
Della: I saw the paper afterward and I was a half point ahead of the girl that got picked (valedictorian). He'd have gotten one for both of us if mother could have sent me to school.
Stacy: How many kids were in your school? You were in a country school?
Della: Country school? I don't remember how many kids there were in grade school.
Doris: But there were enough so that the teacher went home for lunch across the street and we'd play square dances. It was…in the school. It seems to me I never got to square dance.
Della: Doris, it was a myth. We never did that.
Doris: We did to. At Giddings school. And I was in the fourth grade. You were probably in the eighth. Yes, we did, Della. Miss Engles was our teacher. Butlers lived across the street. And she knew we were doing that cause she came in one day and went right through the bunch of us. You don't remember? I'm glad I have my memory.
Stacy: Were all the kids in your family in school at the same time, or were they older…how big was the age difference?
Della: At that time if you got through the eighth grade and you didn't have any money, eighth grade was it. Dorothy got through the eighth grade.
Doris: She went to normal school at River Falls, Wis.
Della: It's kind of too bad because…actually there weren't any really dumb kids in our family.
Doris: Oh yes, there was. I was the dunce. No matter what I tell, I was dumb. I still am gullible.
Stacy How far apart are you two?
Della: Two and a half years.
Stacy: But four grades apart?
Della: I went one year in the country school when I was alone either in the third or fourth grade. Anyhow the teacher rather than putting me back or having one more class, put me ahead. And eventually, I was smart enough to go ahead.
Doris: One teacher did the same thing to me in the third or fourth grade, but in the meantime we moved and I had no idea what I was doing. I suppose if I'd had that teacher, I'd eventually have gotten enough. But I had to repeat the fourth grade. That's when I forgot how dumb I was.
Stacy: But your brothers drove you to school?
Doris: Yes, but that's when we first came back from Wisconsin.
Stacy: But they were still in school?
Della: I was in the seventh…would have been in the seventh grade, but that year they thought they'd save so they only had the eighth grade one year and the seventh the next, so I had to take eighth grade work and then I failed that, but they had me take an examination and I went over to Pierre and took a special examination, which was a big act for me to do because I was a country girl over in that big city of Pierre, you know. But I passed. And the next year the war started and Mother sent me over to Fort Pierre to my aunt. My Dad died and Mother stayed on on the farm.
Doris: He died the year we came back. In March of that year.
Stacy: How long were you in Wisconsin?
Della: Four years.
Stacy: So you came back. To the same area? Same farm?
Della: The same homestead. Yes.
Doris: That's when all of this happened. We spent part of the year at that one house and then when he died we came back.
Della: And their contract was up so then we came back. And the boys hired out. The war came on. Dorothy was in North Dakota teaching.
Stacy: North Dakota? Where?
Della: Strasburg. Lawrence Welk's country.
Doris: That was just north of where I taught. Campbell County. It was just inside the border.
Della: Then I went over to Fort Pierre and lived with my aunt. And that's when that awful flu broke out. And she was a trained nurse.
Stacy: You lived with her to go to high school?
Della: Yes, in Fort Pierre. I suppose maybe three months. About Thanksgiving and they closed the school because of the disease. So I went back out to the farm. And mother didn't want me to not be in school, so she sent me back to school, to the country school. The next year we moved into Blunt so I could go to high school and she bought a house there.
Doris: Did you know what that man said, the man who bought the cattle? He said, "You have no business out here with those three little kids." And he bought the cattle and asked her if she wouldn't move into town. And by then I think she'd had all she wanted of it.
Della: Everyone was taking her for everything they could get. It's surprising how many people will take advantage of a woman like that.
Doris: Oh yes.
Stacy: What did she do when she moved into town?
Della: She worked.
Doris: Eventually she became a pie…pastry cook at the restaurant. And I was getting to the age where I needed to be taken care of, so Mother had him give me work in there. And I worked my way through school.
Della: You were still doing that when I graduated from high school and I taught school the next year. I came back in the summer and worked in that same restaurant.
Doris: And mother, she eventually took her own restaurant.
Della: She was no business woman so she wouldn't do well. That probably wasn't the reason, but the whole family moved home and lived off her. My oldest brother did the buying and didn't pay for anything. He helped himself to the till because he was working there. And Don's wife and twins came to live there. And Doug…
Doris: No Douglas never made it off of mother.
Della: Until she just finally lost everything. She didn't lose the building, but was there yet. She didn't have anybody. Nobody would eat. It wasn't fit to eat.
Stacy: Wasn't she a good cook?
Doris: She was a wonderful cook.
Della: But it just cost so much she couldn't pay her bills and she had to quit.
Stacy: Were you all grown?
Della: I was teaching school, and you were starting teaching.
Stacy: You were all pretty young?
Doris: I think she must have quit when we went away, when we both started teaching.
Lou: From the time I can remember, she was on a pension. And it was always a terrible source of humiliation to her.
Doris: And do you know what it was? She had $5 a month for each of us children. $15 a month was the money that the county, I suppose it was the country…or state…gave her. And my mother made it work. Pretty good. But she took in washing. One of the things she did was to go and when anyone had a baby they stayed in bed for two weeks. And Mother went. And Della was…
Della: I was the captain.
Doris: Certainly. And Pat still calls her the captain. A cake a week was a very big thing with us. By the way. There was a big order sent to Savage. Mother would can anything she could from there. Della, didn't she…
Della: Was it Savage, or was it Sears and Roebuck?
Doris: I remember that powdered sugar was one of the things. During the war she had this powdered sugar and thought it was rice and tried to make some cupcakes, or muffins. Rice muffins and it was powdered sugar. She just felt terrible about that.
Della: Like the date roll I sent Lou down at college. Haven't you heard that story? I supposed she knew it was date roll. She was there the day we made it. And she sliced it up and put it in the oven on a cookie sheet. She thought it was refrigerator cookie dough. Have you ever had date roll? It was something special and she loved it. Why she didn't catch on because it was one of her favorites.
Lou: We ate them, but they weren't very good.
Stacy: There were three of you at home after your father died. Then, where did the older brothers and sister go?
Della: Mother couldn't make the farm go, so they hired out as farm hands.
Doris: But they did come back. Douglas came back one year. Don came one year.
Della: And that was when Mother sold it, because he was unhappy about her selling the farm. But she had to do it to move to town. But she was determined we'd go to high school. So we had high school educations.
Stacy: Just the three of you?
Della: yes, just the three of us.
Stacy: What about Dorothy?
Della: Did she go on to high school? She took summer school.
Doris: She took the normal, what they called normal. It was a teachers college at River Falls (Wis.). I think she could live with some of her relatives there. Or was that when we were back there that she did that?
Della: What are you talking about Wisconsin for?
Doris: About Dorothy's education. She got a teachers certificate there.
Della: Well, she did that while we were there yet. She was older.
Doris: Yes, that's right. She's 10 years older than I.
Stacy: What's the age difference? How much older was Dave, or Dade?
Della: Dave was 15 years older.
Stacy: So there was every two years up to Nap?
Della: Yes. Then there was four years between us. Three years between Doris and me. And four yeas between Doris and Pat.
Stacy: What was your social life like, like, when you were in high school?
Doris: Very much. Very much like everyone else at that time, I'd think.
Della: We liked to dance. We had country dances.
Doris: Oh, this was before we went to Blunt.
Della: Didn't we go out there in the summer. Yes, summer dances. One of our neighbors had a bunch of girls, and we'd go in the lumber wagon and sometimes Mother went, but not too much.
Doris: I thought she'd go every time.
Della: We'd go to these dances before dark. As soon as chores were done, we'd go. And all the neighbors came and we danced in a little room not much bigger than this.
Doris: As soon as the light got dark. And we'd do this in the winter too.
Stacy: And you'd dance all night?
Doris: Oh yes.
Stacy: What kind of music.
Doris: They had an organ. I even chorded. On the organ. And I'd watch and they'd push me to chord. We had an organ at home. Dorothy won it.
Della: Mother had to pay the freight. Dorothy won it but she didn't have any money to pay the freight from Wisconsin. I think the freight was $13.
Doris: We were at the farm then. Because Dorothy never was in Blunt…One of the meanest things my mother and Della did was to spend $1 for a Christmas stocking. You didn't tell us.
Della; And that was mean? No, we didn't tell you. There wasn't going to be any money for Christmas. And I remember mother taking one dollar to have a little Christmas and she let me in on it so that I could get the meal so that Dorothy and Doris couldn't find it.
Doris: But I'm think of what Dorothy did, went through. That's why I call it mean. Dorothy thought we weren't going to have any Christmas so she put the horses to the sleight and rode in a storm down to DeGrey and all she could buy down there was a little candy and some oranges. She rode five miles in, you know what mean horses that could be in the winter, and she came home with those and they never let her know and they let her go down there. When I think about that, I could just cry. Such a terrible thing.
Della: it wasn't. And they thought they had the nicest Christmas we ever had. And I certainly had a good time, you know, to think I was being nice to these people.
Stacy: So what did you do with the dollar? What did you get?
Della: We bought a Christmas sack that was filled with gimmicks. Just little paper things.
Doris: Cracker jacks and stuff and we thought it was wonderful. The mean part was to let my sister go in that terrible storm. I don't see how they could let her. And our Christmas tree that year was just a tree branch that had fallen off some tree and they picked it up and brought it home.
Della: Remember the one you fixed, Jerry?
Doris: it was the most beautiful tree. But as the years went by and I got to thinking what Dorothy went through, I just thought it was the meanest thing.
Stacy: Don't want to start a fight here.
Doris: Isn't this what you were expecting?
Jerry: I think it's so shocking to realized what things cost now days.
Della: And what we spend for nothing.
Doris: Even in 1938 I happened to have one of my little sales slips. Bread was 10 cents a loaf. What is it now, over a dollar. Milk was 10 cents. I have a recipe that's 10 cents worth of walnuts and 10 cents worth of chocolate syrup. I think that's the funniest recipe.
Jerry: And candy bars were a nickel. In fact, at the office the other day they had those crullers. We used to buy a package for a dime. I think there were eight or ten. Now one is 80 cents. You know, Jeanne's birthday…no, my birthday is on the 6th and hers is on the 8th of January. Maybe I don't remember this right, but I swear I didn't get anything for my birthday and she got one of those pencil sharpeners. I felt bad that she got a present and I didn't.
Doris: I've got one of those pencil sharpeners you're talking about in my purse right now. I scooted it over the point of my pencil to bring it out here.
Jerry; You know, when my Dad was working, he made $48 a month. People who worked on farms in those days made a dollar a day and they didn't get work very much.
Doris: And don't you know stories about cowboys who got $40 and their room and board and they got to stay all winter if they were good workers. Not all the cowboys got to stay.
Jerry: We got things at the store and the grocer wrote it on a little pad. May dad would go over and pay the bill, and they'd give us a little sack of candy, penny candy. It was the big thrill of the month.
Della; But how much happier we were in those days than we are now. Even in the Dirty ‘30s when we went through those dust storms. The whole neighborhood…and this was when the kids were little…we would either go to the creek or go down to the church. There was a place to play softball or baseball. We'd go down there of an evening, maybe two or three times a week.
Lou: Mother was a great organizer. At least I always thought you were. You'd put together plays and baseball games and swimming parties.
Drew: Grandma, remember the tennis?
Della: You weren't there.
Stacy: What did you do at home? What was your family life like and did you have kind of a daily routine?
Della: One time I knifed my brother.
Stacy: And then your husband shot you.
Della: I thought I was mean to Pat. But Don treated me just about that same way. He made me so mad one day, I just grabbed the knife and went for him. But he got out of the way. And then another time, Doug and I were fighting and he was just teasing me and I had a pan of water I was drawing and he kicked that and it came up and hit me in the eye.
Doris: And she got a black eye. And Douglas was so tender-hearted. It just about killed him.
Della: He didn't mean to hurt anybody. He really was sorry.
Doris: And one time he was teasing Mother and Della and Pat and I were supposed to be sleeping up on the bed. There was a bunch of socks. I suppose Mother was mending socks in the afternoon. Anyway, Douglas fell asleep on the other bed after he'd been teasing them, and Pat and I tied him to the bed. But you know, he just laughed and laughed cause we were really little.
Della: This is like the time Dorinda had that course in college and she had to interview us. And Doris and I didn't think we could remember anything, but the more we got to talking, the more things came back.
Stacy: Did you have a daily sort of schedule you had to follow? Did you have to get up and do chores in the morning?
Doris: Oh yes.
Stacy: What did you do?
Doris: I didn't do anything.
Della: I studied. I never studied at night. I'd get up early in the morning and study.
Doris: It's really the best time to do it. But Della studied so much that she needed glasses and didn't realize it until…
Della: Oh yes, I knew it. My sister Dorothy, she got pinz nez glasses and I didn't think she needed them. She just got them to be smart. And we didn't have money for that. And the other thing she did, which is why I don't have pictures, was she had a camera and she was always spending money on pictures. And the main thing was we couldn't afford it. And my mother was working to support us.
Lou: Have you told her about Prof Dunn yet? He was sort of a major influence on your life.
Doris: And mine was a different one.
Stacy: Yes, tell me. Was he a teacher?
Lou: You just talked about him a lot when we were little kids.
Della: We worshiped him.
Doris: He was a fine man. He was truly a teacher.
Della: He picked on me. One of the things, I read a lot, but I didn't get the pronunciation right and I used those words and I didn't pronounce them right and he delighted in embarrassing me. But I did get good grades. And I nearly always got the first question. He'd pick on me nearly always.
Stacy: Was that in high school? Did you have different teachers in high school or one teacher for the whole school?
Doris: He was the professor, the superintendent of the school.
Della: Three or four teachers and the prof.
Stacy: What did he teach?
Doris: Did he have classes?
Della: He was teaching a law class one time…
Stacy: Did you have law in high school?
Della: No, I didn't, but I was going to tell you about my shorthand. They had a mock trial and they had to have reporters, so the shorthand class had to be the court reporters. So the first day when the teacher expected us to get every word, but I was so interested in the trial I didn't get hardly any of it. She was going to flunk us. So the next day, it got really exciting, but I was so scared I was going to flunk that I got every word. And she said, "Oh, I know you didn't get anything today," because she was so interested. I got the whole darned thing
Stacy: What other subjects did you study in high school?
Della: They finally said we had to have foreign language and I was a senior and didn't have one. But they did have French that year. We had to have two years to get the credit, so I did two years in one. I was taking five subjects, and I loved it. I just loved it. I couldn't speak it but I could read it.
Stacy: Did you have music lessons?
Doris: No, not in school.
Della: I taught myself to play the piano. Doris had a natural ear.
Doris: I still don't read, and my ear is getting really bad.
Della: She took some lessons and it spoiled her natural ear. She'd hear a tune once and she could play it.
Doris: Amy my teacher thought that I was the very best and she gave me the star place on the recital. I didn't know that, I was so frightened. I couldn't even find the notes on the piano. My hands shook so bad and I played automatically on the wrong keys all the way through. That's the story of my life. If I don't know I'm doing well, I'm all right.
Stacy: Did you have any kind of physical education classes?
Della: Oh yes, I played basketball…and starred. In those days, we had three courts, two guards, two centers, two forwards, and I was one of the forwards. And we had a good coach and we followed what she said. We won the biggest share of our games.
Stacy: What else did you play?
Doris: She played tennis.
Della: Yeah, but that was later.
Doris: I don't think we had anything else. We danced, of course. Just ordinary ballroom dancing. But those were the spots in our lives. A week apart. You folks wouldn't be able to get through a day without doing something special.
Della: I never felt that we worked hard at home. I know we had to work, and I worked out some. I know I had a job once and I came late and the woman fired me right then. I cleaned house and I'd go there (to the restaurant) and help serve the meals. I suppose I washed dishes afterward; I must have.
Stacy: Was that your first job?
Doris: Why did she fire you?
Della: I was late. Five of 10 minutes, but she said, "If you're not gong to be here when I need you, then you can just go home." And I went home. I don't know why I was late. I resented working for anybody though. I just never wanted to.
Stacy: So how old were you when you had your first job?
Della: I was in high school.
Stacy: When you started teaching, where did you teach and what did you teach?
Della: I was out at Highmore and I was 18 years old.
Stacy: Did you board with a family?
Della: Boarded with a family and paid $100 a month. The mother of that family was very crippled with arthritis. She sat in a chair with her…they were just claws, and she had to be fed. She couldn't get her hands up to feed herself. But she could crochet and she made the most beautiful things. There were two girls and a boy in that family.
Doris: The name was Borchedine. The girl must have been about your age and she took care of the family. And years later after Helen lived in Sioux Falls, Kay brought a boyfriend in to the house one day and his name was Borchedine and he came from up around there, so he might have been somehow related to those people.
Stacy: This is an aside, but I have a friend in Minneapolis. Her name is Mary Gunderson. She's from South Dakota and her mother was…her mother's mother died when she was a little girl.
Della: Fred Boekelheide’s girl.
Stacy: That's right.
Della: Myrtle? Can't think of her name. Bertha?
Stacy: But Grandma Belle took care of her.
Lou: Oh, this is the daughter, Marion. I used to play with her.
Della: And what is the boy's name, because Jerry and he are good friends
Doris: Jack?
Della: No.
Stacy: He's dying. At least my friend's father is dying.
Lou: Grandma took care of her and Gerald when she was a little girl. I suppose she was 10 years old, but Grandma took care of her until she was well into high school. It was her wedding day and Grandma was ready to go and somebody stopped in to call on Grandma and I think it was someone from out of town. It wasn't someone from across the street. And she never told them that she was invited to Marion's wedding.
Stacy: And she missed the wedding?
Lou: She was heart broken because she loved her. And she stayed there and visited with those people instead of going to the wedding.
Della: I can see that boy's face as he is now. He and Jerry are good friends. They flew to Sioux Falls one day and he was piloting the plane and he was talking to Jerry so much that Jerry realized … that Jerry said, "You haven't got flying speed yet." And they came that close to crashing. What was his name? Gerald?
Stacy: Another side of the family. So you were boarding with this family?
Doris: How long were you there, Della?
Della: Just one year. That May, about the middle of May we had 12 inches of snow. It was about a mile, mile and a quarter, but they took us with the team and the horses had a hard time getting there.
Doris: And you went to school anyway?
Stacy: What year would that have been?
Della: I graduated in '23, so '24 or '25.
Stacy: You had cars then?
Doris: Oh yes.
Della: I went home every weekend because I just hated it, just hated teaching school.
Stacy: You did? Did you only teach for the one year?
Della: No I taught seven years. I begged Mother to let me quit. I never doubted she was my boss. And finally after the New Year, she said, "All right." And then I realized I had to stay with it. I was a horrible teacher. I had no training and it was just torture to me.
Stacy: Why didn't you like it?
Della: Because I didn't know how to do it.
Doris: And that's why I didn't, either.
Stacy: So, it wasn't because the kids were terrible?
Della: No, well yes. I had some bad kids. I had a couple of Jewish kids and they attacked me.
Stacy: Physically?
Della: Physically. I don't know what they were doing, but I remanded them and this boy said, "Come on, Elmer, let's get her." And they came after me and when they got close I hit one of those kids right in the face. They turned around and they respected me for the rest of the term. I was scared.
Doris: I had this backward child, he never went further than the fourth grade. But he was about 13 or 14 and I made him stay after school for something, maybe just to prove I could make him do something. Anyway the kids had to wait out at the sled for him. I had on high heel shoes and he called me a dumbskull. And went out and I got him off that sled. I don't know how I did it. He was a big kid. But I pulled him out and shook him and, of course, the boy…I can hear him yet, telling his family that my shoes, the high heels just went wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. The stupid things we remember.
Stacy: You taught where after…?
Della: The next year, did I go to Eureka. Yes, I went to Eureka and I taught school there for two years.
Stacy: Were you teaching all subjects, all grades?
Della: Not all the schools had them (pupils in ever grade0 but if they had them, I would have. And I was a poor teacher to begin with. I felt sorry for those poor kids.
Lou: You were a wonderful teacher for your kids.
Della: Well, you learn a few things as you go along. It's just like anything else that you do. You can't do it if you don't know, and I didn't know how.
Stacy: Did you get better at it as you went along?
Della: When I got through, I felt I was a better teacher.
Stacy; When you got through seven years, or one year?
Della: I taught on a second-grade certificate, then Doris and I went to summer school . The first time I wrote for the certificate, I just felt like…well, one of the things they had in the test, that would be art now, but then they called it drawing, and I didn't know anything about art and don't like it and have no interest in it. And I just felt they had to flunk me. I didn't answer any of the questions right. But they passed me anyway, drawing was a minor thing. And I did get the second-grade certificate. I taught two years on that and then went to summer school.
Stacy: So what difference did that make?
Della: I could get more money.
Lou: Did you learn to teach a little better?
Della: As you go along, you learn something.
Lou: But not from the classes you were taking? Weren't the classes designed to make you a better teacher?
Della: No, you just went to summer school, that's what you did. At Eureka, I taught two years and I had a little German girl come to school who didn't know how to speak English.
Doris: I had two of them.
Della: And I had to teach her to speak English first. She wasn't very bright in the first place.
Doris: These two I had were bright, but the children couldn't do their own studying because they were waiting for me to make some bad mistake. I'd try to learn German at home at night so I could tell these children…
Della: I'm trying to think where I taught next. Out where Jay Miller (Wendell Miller's cousin) lived. That's where I met your dad, at Seneca. I taught two years there.
Doris: And two north of Blunt.
Lou: Were your teaching there the year you and Dad got married?
Della: I'd finished there.
Lou: Did you live at Cresbard?
Della: I stayed with a family just across the road from the school house.
Lou: In Seneca?
Della: No, at Seneca I lived with Jay Miller. And they were right close to the school.
Lou: Where were you teaching when you and Dad got married?
Della: South of Cresbard. Ten miles down there. We got married in November, but I finished the term.
Stacy: Before we get on to marriage, did you ever think what your futures would hold? Did you think, "We'll work for awhile and then we'll get married and we'll have families"? Or did you ever think that you wanted to do something else?
Della; What I wanted to do was commercial work. Typing, bookkeeping, shorthand. I was a whiz at all of them.
Doris: Della, you know, Helen was too.
Della: And I had a chance, if we'd had the money so I could have gone. That teacher, the commercial teacher, would have taken me with her to summer school in Chicago and if I could have passed that test I could have taught high school. But we just didn't have the money, so I couldn't do it. And that was my love.
Doris: We were less than poor; we were poverty stricken. We didn't know it. I didn't.
Della: I'm pretty cocky anyway. I'm just as good as anybody, or I won't admit that anybody's any better than I am.
Stacy: And we're grateful to you for that heritage.
Della: Actually, I didn't have any reason for feeling that way.
Stacy: Aunt Doris, what did you want to do? What were your dreams?
Doris: I don't think I had any special.
Della: We just had to help mother, that was all. If there was any money left over from paying our bills…
Doris: When I went to teach, I don't think I ever had more than $20 a month that I kept. I paid my room and board and sent Mother money, and I think Della did the same.
Della: And I never even thought we could do anything different.
Doris: Never even dawned on me. I never resented it at all and I don't understand why. Now day, they even want to move out on you; they don't even like you any more. Although my kids didn't take that attitude. I don't know if any of your kids did or not.
Stacy: When did you meet your husbands? And how did you meet them?
Della: Wendell came out to drive cattle quite often at Jay Miller's ranch near Seneca. Hal Miller (uncle) always took cattle out to summer pasture out there. Did I get a date with him? Did he get a date with me? Inez McGaugh and Gene were going together at that time and Wendell asked me to go out to the river with them. And I went with them.
Lou: Which river?
Della: The Missouri River. We used to go out there to where the Cheyenne Agency used to be. Just spent the day there, driving around mainly. We didn't do anything special. I don't know how the second date came about. We were attracted to each other.
Lou: How long before you got married after you met?
Della: I was living at Seneca then. And I taught north of Blunt after that.
Doris: Wendell never came to Blunt.
Della: Yes, he did
Lou: You courted for years?
Della: Several years.
Stacy: What was he doing at the time?
Della: Helping his dad.
Stacy: Where were they living?
Della: Right where the farm is. Wendell never lived any other place until we moved to Redfield. He was born there in that house.
Stacy: So when you were talking the other day about moving up from the little house to the big house, when you were married, you moved into the little house?
Della: Right. He and Middlewood built that house with a farmer that knew a little bit about carpentry, and they built that house. It was little, lots smaller than it is now. And I stayed down at my school five days a week and then I'd come up and stay at Belle's or go home to Blunt. Until he got the house built.
Doris: Were you married then, you mean?
Della: No, We were going to go down to Hobo Day and get married. And there was a terrible snow storm and we couldn't get anywhere. He couldn't even get down to the school house to get me. I had to stay there that weekend. But the next week, we went up to Ipswich and got married.
Stacy: Did you have a wedding dress? I've seen your wedding picture.
Della: That wasn't my wedding picture. That was when I was carrying Lois (born four years later). If you've seen that picture, how horrid I looked. Wendell came in at 11 o'clock and said, "Let's go down to Redfield and get our pictures taken." I didn't even have time to wash my hair and it was just stringy.
Lou: We've always thought you looked a lot better than your picture.
Della: Well, that was the reason. And Wendell was like that all the time. It never occurred to him that anybody else might need a little time. And I always did what he wanted, so that's why I went.
Stacy: Did you have a honeymoon?
Della: No.
Stacy: Ever?
Della: Wendell's dad had gone to Rochester because he had cancer and he went down there for one of those checks. And we went up and got married and came back to the farm. I never could understand why Belle made Ilene sleep downstairs with her, but it was cause we were having a honeymoon upstairs. Ilene was 12 or 13 and Belle didn't want her exposed to that.
Lou: Or maybe she was just giving you a little privacy?
Della: And then I went and taught school on Monday. We did this on the weekend.
Stacy; Did you have any of your family with you when you got married? Or just the two of you? Did you just run off?
Della: We went with Gene and Inez McGaugh. We didn't tell anyone.
Lou: There was a wonderful story, you know. Mother never was one to tell people about things. Tell her about when Jerry was born.
Della: Well, when she (Doris) had Helen, she didn't tell me that she was pregnant. I think the baby was born before I had any notion of that. So the second time I was pregnant, I didn't tell her.
Doris: When she found out about this she said, "Just you wait. You're never going to find out…"
Della: Grandma Belle couldn't stand it. I had him in August and she… Doris didn't know it yet, so Belle invited them up for Thanksgiving. Doris came in…and Inez McGaugh was there and…
Doris: And I said, "Whose baby is that?" I thought it was Inez's.
Della: I was nursing him, so she had to know he was my baby. And that's how she found out.
Doris: She's a vicious woman.
Lou: (to Doris) So why didn't you tell her you were going to have a baby?
Doris: I just wanted to have that baby before anybody knew. Mom knew, but…
Lou: Your own special secret.
Della: We couldn't see each other very often. We were far apart. We didn't have very much money to go. But we kept in touch off and on all the time.
Stacy: Where were you (Doris) when you met Charlie? Were you teaching then?
Doris: I had worked in the store in Blunt before I taught. And I had met a lady from Agar. She sat in the store waiting for her train. She visited with me and I never thought anything of it. The station manager came up to the store and he said there was a lady asking your name and address and all this and I still didn't realize. I was teaching school that fall and when I came back, I had an eight-month school so I was back in April.
Della: Or early May.
Doris: And here I got a phone call. And this lady asked me if I'd come and work for her in a town by the name of Agar. And I didn't know what to do with my summer anyhow, so I went out. I stayed while she went on a trip in a strange town in the back end of her store. Scared to death. But I stayed until she came back. I was going to have a job in Aberdeen and I was going to make $80 a month. I think I was going to work in a restaurant. I had worked there on my way through school. But she met that, so I stayed there. Some fellow asked me for a date, and I went on the date and Charlie was driving the car. He had the other girl. When she got in the car, she said, "Now you behave yourself." And he proceeded to behave himself and she was all over him. It was really quite funny because she couldn't keep her arms off of him. I was with this other man. I didn't know he was a married man. He was a transient worker there. This was a town I didn't know. I went to the show with him and, of course, you could hear laughter all over. He had his arm around me and I'd get out of that and this kept on and I could just hear the giggles from those Agar people who were seeing all this. We went home and I told Mrs. Lyons that I didn't like what was happening to me. But Charlie came by and he was laughing and he had the brightest, whitest smile. And of course, he was real dark. His teeth would look that bright. Helen has his teeth. So very quietly I said when Jack came in to see me one day that I really liked that guy's looks. He just shot out of the room. Before I knew it I had a date with Charlie.
Stacy: How long were you dating before you were married?
Doris: I finished my school. I had another year. We were married in June.
Stacy: A year of what…of high school?
Doris: No, I was teaching. I was taking this summer job, which was about four months.
Stacy: Where did you live then?
Doris: I lived in town, in Agar.
Stacy: What did Charlie do?
Doris: His dad was a rancher. They farmed and they had cattle they ran, and his dad was a stock buyer. So Charlie was is right-hand man. He kept things going at the ranch. And they had a couple that lived out there and fed the men. So that fall, we moved out there. I didn't know how to cook. I about starved them to death. But we stayed out there until Helen was a year, I guess a year old. She'd go out and sit. Where we'd throw the dishwater, and she'd go out and sit as close to it as she could with flies all over her, and I said, "Charlie, we're not going to stay here any longer." And we packed and moved into town. So when she was about 4 years old we moved to Huron. I was thinking of the college there. I was thinking they could go to college there. So both girls went somewhere else to college.
Stacy: You've lived in Huron ever since then?
Doris: Since 1934. I guess Helen was only 3. She was born in 1931.
Lou: Charlie commuted a lot.
Doris: Yes, he did. He trucked; he drove trucks for his dad. He had a truck. When he and Orvie were 21, they had had said if they didn't smoke or drink then he would buy them either a truck or a tractor or a car. His dad gave him a truck, so he made his money on that. He was kind of his dad's foreman.
Lou: I don't know if I missed this earlier, you know pretty much what your mother did, May, but where did your dad come from?
Della: His folks came from Germany, his mother and dad.
Doris: But he was born here.
Lou: Did you know his family?
Della: No. We never had a grandfather or a grandmother.
Stacy; On either side?
Della: They were all gone before we came. But in those days, people died at 40 or 50.
Lou: And you were among the youngest in a fairly large family.
Doris: But he and his brother, Henry Junkman, did not like their name, which was "Youngman>" Youngman is a lot more attractive than Junkman. But they changed it to Junkman. Always had a perverse streak in your family.
Della: Carl Junkman has worked a lot with the family history. He's gone to the archives and found the name was Jungman, pronounced youngman.
Stacy: Who's Carl Junkman?
Della: Don's boy.
Lou: When we were teen-agers, Dad hired Carl…his name was Gene in those days. I had such a crush on him. I thought he was just the nicest guy.
Della: And he still is. Just a good person to have around.
Stacy: How many brothers and sisters did your parents have?
Doris: Quite a lot, I think. Mother Junkman's family, she had three brothers. When Mother's mother died, they were all farmed out to different ones. Mother and the youngest one finally got back together again. He came one year to see us.
Stacy: She didn't ever get together with the other two?
Della: I suppose she did.
Doris: She went back with him one year. He lived at Alton, Ill., and she went back with him and got acquainted with his family.
Stacy: His name was Jacobs?
Doris: Jacobs, yes.
Stacy; How about your father's family.
Doris: There were quite a few of them. Chris, Henry. He's the one who ran the grocery store. There were four boys and three girls, I suppose. They probably lost some in between. What was his dad's name? Sequist? And then there were women, Rochelle, Rachel, Mary and Netty and Aunt Lou.
Stacy: Was Mom named after Aunt Lou?
Della: No, she was named because your grandfather wouldn't stand for any name I suggested. And I knew a little girl named Betty Lou that I disliked very much and I said to him, "I suppose you'd like Betty Lou," and he did.
Doris: It was the mother you didn't like.
Della: Yes, that was it. But she was a Betty Lou. She was cute little girl when she was little. She was the only baby in the country then.
Lou: I've always thought it was a strange name, but I like it now. I don't know any other women named Lou.
Della: I was determined she wasn't going to be called Betty.
Doris: I thought I was named after Aunt Netty, but Della said I was just Netty and Aunt Netty was Henrietta.
Della: You were named for her all right, but they always called her Netty. They never called her anything else.
Lou: But since you didn't have a birth certificate, you'll never know.
Doris: Oh, I did.
Stacy: Were you close to any of our aunts and uncles?
Doris: Aunt Lou, we loved her.
Stacy; Was she the one who lived in Fort Pierre?
Della: No she lived in Wisconsin.
Doris: That was Aunt Netty who lived in Fort Pierre. I didn't particularly like Aunt Netty.
Della: I didn't like her at all.
Doris: She was a nurse.
Della: She was just another one of those things I had to put up with during the week when I lived with her.
Doris: I went over there thinking that because the Plunge was just within the Block, I'd get to go to the Plunge, but she made me go upstairs and sit in the bathroom.
Doris: We didn't even have Mother's wedding picture. One of my cousins had the things left from Aunt Daisy's trunk and there was a wedding picture of my mother and dad in there and she had her own and she gave it to me and they (Jerry ) made copies of that. Did you keep one for yourself?
Lou: We've got it. You've said you wanted more.
Doris: I'd like to.
Lou: Well, as long as you're alive…how many more would you like? This is one of those thing, getting down to the basement is so hard to do. We've talked about it but haven't.
Doris: Well, if you ever do, there are so many in the family, surely some of them want it. I know Carl is just ever-lastingly grateful to me because I gave him the original one.
Doris: Della, can you remember the trips to Canning that you and I went with Charlie? I had a sundress on that wouldn't stay on the shoulder. And Della was sitting beside me. Charlie said, "If you don't keep that up, I'll strip you." And of course, I didn't keep it up and he stripped me and we went through that town stripped. Della and I, we just laughed ourselves sick. There wasn't anyone who could see us. But it was a funny thing. Della said, "You two will never live a year together."
Stacy: That was just at the beginning of your marriage?
Doris: Now days it wouldn't have mattered. We did live together 58 years and we quarreled most of that time. Not the last 10 years, he couldn't keep his side of it gong.
Stacy: Back to your getting together with Grandpa. Who built the big house, did his father?
Della: I don't know if he did it physically or not. The homestead was half a mile north and the claim shack was on it. Later Wendell moved that claim shack down and made a granary out of it. In those days to get a claim you had to live six months on the land. And that was all the building that was there. Wendell's dad didn't prove it up. When they settled the estate, Wendell's dad got that.
Stacy: Now, the homestead, was there a house that stood there?
Della: Just a shack. But the Miller farm was a mile and a half south of the homestead grant and when the dad (Alexander) died, the kids all got the land. And Bert built a house on the claim. There were several brothers. (Something wrong here. Alexander died in the 1920s and Bert and Belle were living in the big house on our farm by 1904 when Dad was born.)
Stacy: So Bert was his father?
Della: Lambert.
Stacy: How many were there in his family.
Della; Bert was the oldest, Hal, Jim, Hugh and two sisters, Edna and Sadie.
Stacy: Grandma Belle, what was her family?
Della: Shaw.
Stacy: Her mother had died, was it?
Della: Yes, there were two girls and a boy with the early mother and then Will married another woman and they had six or seven children. It was a big family. And a lot of them are alive down in Minnesota, down near Rochester.
Stacy: How did she get together with Bert?
Della: She got here teaching school, I believe.
Doris: Oh, was Belle a teacher?
Della: I believe so. You didn't have to be anything but out of the eighth grade in those days.
Stacy: Before you got married, you went on this trip. Tell about this trip.
Della: A girl friend, Doris's classmate, had a new Ford car. She was a teacher and another friend of hers was going to go to California to stay and Marie wanted someone else to go along to have someone to come back with her. And because I didn't have much money, I had to go on a shoestring. And I mean a shoestring. I could just barely pay my way. We dressed very casually. Marie had bib overhauls, that was the way we dressed.
Stacy: You mean she wore pants? Wasn't that kind of unusual for women at that time?
Della: This in the ‘20s; she was a farm girl too.
Stacy: Did you wear pants when you were growing up?
Della: I can't remember. I must have. I didn't dress that much different from Marie. And Wendell let us take his tent and we set that tent up a good many times. But often we stayed in motels and we paid one dollar a night. We went to San Diego and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time ever.
Stacy: So you sort of had your honeymoon trip before without the groom.
Della: We went up the coast to Washington and stayed with an aunt of Marie's for a week. She had a big cherry tree in her yard that was ripe and she said eat all we wanted. And we did. We did lots of swimming, played tennis and softball. That was at Hillsboro, Ore. And that's where Harold Horning lives now. You don't know who Harold Horning is, do you?
Lou: I did, but I don't know where Hillsboro, Ore., is.
Della: We went up the neck of Washington then over to Glacier Park but we didn't stop at Glacier Park but we went down to Pocatella and then to Salt Lake City and headed for home. And I was very anxious to get there because my money was gone.
Stacy: That was in the late '20s?
Della: We were married in'29 and it was that summer.
Stacy: Were you flappers?
Della: No.
Stacy: How did that trend come?
Doris: Dresses were very tight at that time.
Della: And they were very short. I remember at Jay Miller's I wore my dresses a couple of inches above my knees and boy was I daring.
Doris: I had just one good-looking dress and Charlie asked if I had any other clothes and I didn't tell him I just didn't have the money to have other clothes. I just wore that one dress and that was about it. Della had a green dress. Quite a green thing, vine green, and it had lace inserts.
Della: I don't remember the dress, but I do like green so probably that's true.
Doris: She's going to let that go!
Stacy: We've had a few unsettled disputes in the course of this afternoon.
Doris: We're probably both right, partly.
Stacy: You came back and you got married in a …fever. In the courthouse.
Della: No, in the parsonage in Ipswich. And during the service, right after the service there was a commotion out in the street and someone had hit a dog and killed it. And we all looked to see. And we went over to Aberdeen. And then right back to Cresbard. Wendell's dad was gone so he had to do the chores.
And the tape runs out.

 




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