David Juers decided to write down his memories in 2017

Stories from the Life of David Henry Juers

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    1.     Background - I was born on June 23, 1938 at the Elk County General Hospital in Ridgway, Pennsylvania, a small town of about 5000 in the northwest part of the state.  My parents were Mildred (30)  and Henry Juers (31) and I had a sister, Clarice (4).  I  believe that in that year Henry and Mildred purchased a house at 320 Charles Street in an area know as “Swede Hill”.  Swedes living in that area included families with the names Benson, Carlson, Larson, Bengston, Johnson, and my Mother’s maiden name was Nelson.  My father was of German descent, but when he married my Mother he married into a Swedish-American culture.  They were members of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Augustana Synod, and there were still services in Swedish on Sunday Evenings.The extended family  included my Mother’s Mother, Matilda Nelson, Mother’s sister Esther Piccirillo, brother-in-law Mike, and three children, Bennie, Sylvia, and Rosalie.  My Mother’s Father, Henning, emigrated from Sweden, and worked for the railroad.  My understanding is that he was an alcoholic and was frequently seen on the streets in a drunken stupor.  He was killed in an accident on the railroad when I was about 2.  On my Father’s side was his Father, Emil, step-mother, Grace, uncle Charlie, and Aunt Ida.  They were all fundamentally strong, stern Germans.  There was little contact between my Mother’s and Farther’s extended families.  We had good relationships with each extended family, but those relationships rarely crossed.

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    2.    LIVING AT 320 CHARLES STREET        1/4/17

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320 Charles St was indeed up a hill called Swede Hill.  To get to the house from the street one had to scale three cement stairways of 8-10 steps each.  To get to the street from the bottom of the hill (Metoxet Street) required navigating a fairly steep hill that was probably five house lots long, either on the sidewalk or on the dirt road.  In winter when the road was snow-covered or icy getting up was difficult by both foot and car.

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The house was two stories with a basement and a finished attic.  The basement was used mostly for the coal-fired furnace (later converted to gas), coal storage (6 tons each year that had to be shoveled in through a small window), hot water heater, food storage area with lots of shelves for food that was canned in the summer and fall.  There was a small area for tools, etc.

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The first floor had a small living room and dining room on the front of the house and a large kitchen-dining area across the back.  One reached the second floor via steps from the living room and the kitchen that met at a landing half way up.  There were three bedrooms and a bath on the second floor with a hallway connecting the rooms.  The attic had two rooms that we used for storage, although I used one room as a bedroom for a period of time.

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Behind the house were more banks and stairs, the first set of stairs going to a level area where there were clothes lines.  Washed clothes were always hung out to dry in that there was no gas or electric drier.  Hanging clothes was a frequest chore for us kids and Mother taught us how to  hang so we efficiently used line space and clothes pins.  In the winter the clothes frequently froze and were stiff as boards  This area also served as a play area and we frequetly made tents by hanging blankets, etc over the clothes lines.  The next set of stairs lead to a large flat area that served as a garden.  We grew many vegetables for food and at harvest time canning was a family activity.  But many items were root vegetables like potatoes, beets, carrots, and onion.  We also had flowers and plum trees.  The final set of stairs let to a chicken coop where we kept chickens as a source of eggs and meat.  I learned how to kill and pluck a chicken for Sunday dinner and I learned how to set a rat trap to keep the rat population in the chicken coop at bay.  When we stopped having chickens this building became a hangout for me and my friends.  We built bunk beds, had a wood-fired stove, and enjoyed many hours hanging out.

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    3.     DEALING WITH A COAL FIRED FURNACE   1/5/17

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We had a gravity coal-fired furnace in the basement.  Gravity means that there was no blower on the furnace and as the air was heated it rose through the duct work to the upper floors.  Cold air return ducts returns the colder air to the furnace in the basement.  The furnace needed frequent attention througout the day.  The fire had to be supplied with coal to keep it going and ashes needed to be removed.  It was particularly important to “bank the fire” at night so that it would still be burning in the morning.  On cold days one did not want the fire to go out.

In the fall Dad would order coal for the winter.  He bought “mine run coal”, meaning that it was not screened for a specific size.  Mine run was the least expensive.  It had large lumps as well as very small pieces.  The coal would be delivered by dump truck in the yard outside the cellar window.  It would frequently cover the sidewalk along side the house, so getting it inside asap was a good idea.  The coal had to be shoveled into the coat bin in the cellar through the small window.  Large lumps had to be broken into smaller pieces with a sledge hammer.  Part way through the process one had to go to the coal bin in the basement and shovel the coat to the far side of the bin, away from the window, as it piled up and plugged the window.  So all the coal, six tons or so, had to be shoveled twice.  This activity served as a source of spending money for me as my Dad would pay me to shovel the coat in to the bin in the cellar

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On the other end of the coal fire was the ashes, and although there were not six tons of ashes there were plenty.  Each day they had to be removed from the bottom of the furnace and put into a pail.  That pail had to be lifted and put outside through a small cellar window and the ashes disposed of.  Many times they were spread on the ice and snow on the sidewalk and road.  I do not ever recall us having to cart them away - we always found a place for them in the road, etc.

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I don’t remember when Dad switched to gas so that this labor intensive process no longer had to be undertaken-most likely before I left home and went to college.  Memories of the coal furnace and what it took to keep in going are clearly part of my childhood memories.

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    4.     THE FRONT PORCH         1/6/17

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A very important feature of the house at 320 Charles St was the front porch..  It was large, spanning the complete front of the house.  It had a swing, other furniture, and spindle railings.  Remember now, it wasn’t until the early 1950’s that we got TV and there were not computers or tablets to occupy our time, so we were often looking for things to do.  So in good weather the front porch became a place were we hung out.  Being on a hill we could look down from the front porch as see the houses and activity below, sometimes seeing some of the buildings in the center of town.  It was always fun to watch John Larson move his cows from his barn to the pasture, or visa versa (more on this later). We could keep an eye on who in the neighborhood was coming and going by noting the walkers and cars.  And watching large trucks maneuver the narrow and steep roads was alway a treat.   Frequently we would sit on the porch and watch rain and thunder storms - until the wind picked up and we started to get wet.  But the most vivid memory I have of spending time on the front porch is the marathon Monopoly games.  We had lots of kids in the neighborhood besides Clarice and me - Glenn Roof, the Mercer’s, Van Vranken’s, Alan Johnson, and others, so getting a game going was not too difficult.  If I remember correctly the games could go on all day or sometimes even into the next day.  There was a two or three person swing on chains and swinging was a common activity.  I remember we used to have to adjust the height of the swing so it did not hit the railing behind us.  I don’t recall that we ever overloaded the swing to the point where the chain broke to the hooks came loose.

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Another memory I have from the front porch is seeing the quarantine signs on the wall by the front door when we would get some communicable disease like mumps or measles and had to stay home.  The front porch would be about as far as we would  venture out at those times.

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So the front porch was a significant gathering spot in the good weather and we spent many hours there playing games and relaxing.

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    5.     CUTTING THE GRASS

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Cutting the grass at 320 Charles was a challenge because of  the fact that the house was built on a hill and there were terraces in front and behind - 6 terraces in all.  Some were cut short with a lawn mower and others with cut with a  sickle after the grass had grown to a height of 12-18 inches.  And of course the flat part was cut with the lawn mower.  Let’s start at the street level where there was a terrace that could only be cut by had with the cycle.  It was very rough, partly washed out, etc so no lawnmower could eve be used.  The next two terraces were much smoother and could be cut with a lawnmower.  In my early years we had a push mower.  I stood at the top of each terrace and let the mower go down as far as I could reach, which was not the full length of the terrace.  I then went to the bottom of the terrace and cut the lower part, which was a challenge because the grade of the terrace was about 45 degrees.  Sometimes I would tie a rope to the lawnmower and lower it the full length of the terrace from the top.  There were times when I was at the top of the terrace that I would slip and slide down the terrace with the mower.  This was not cool and it frequently caused divots in the grass.  As far as I remember only my pride was hurt.

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The remainder of the terraces behind the house were all cut with a sickle.  It was back breaking, arm aching work.  And some of the terraces were long enought so that the tops could not be reached from the bottom of the terrace where the surface was flat.  So I had to stand on the sloped terrace to reach the top 2-3 feet.  And maintaining ones balance was a challenge, so slips to the bottom were frequent.  The blade would frequently get dull due to hitting rocks, etc and just wear.  So my Dad taught me how to sharpen it, and a sharp sickle was so much easier to use than a dull one.

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When Dad bought a power mower he adjusted the handle so it would go parallel to the ground.  That way we could tie a rope to it and let it down the full length of the front terraces.  It did a better job than the push mower, but I had to be careful when pulling the mower back up that my feet were in a safe place.  Never had to worry about that with the push mower.

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    6.     MOM, WHAT CAN I DO?       1/10/17

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I was not a very imaginative, creative person in my young age so coming up with things to do when there seemed like nothing to do was difficult.  So frequently I would go to Mom and say “Mom, what can I do?”  Mother generally could come up with something for me to do even though she was busy with here own tasks.  Many times she would modify her tasks to include me, and sometimes she would ask for help even before I would go to her asking for things to do.  One big job was the wash.  We had a ringer washer which had a tub with an agitator  and a ringer (two hard rubber rolls rotating in opposite directions forming a nip)  The wet wash was put into the nip and it would ring the water out of the clothes.  Clothes had to be rung twice, once after washing and once after rinsing.  And then the clothes had to be put in a basket and carried up the back steps and hung on the clothe lines.

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I learned a lot about cooking by helping in the kitchen and to this day I make a good pie crust using the techniques that Mother taught me.  She would not let me go to college without knowing how to iron, and frequently when I was looking for something to do out would come the iron and ironing board and I would iron flatware - hankies, napkins, etc.  I don’t recall that we ironed sheets and pillow cases.

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One very strange make-do task was “making string”.  We had a lot of pieces of canvas in the attic and making string involved unweaving the canvas string by string.  For the life of me I can’t remember what the string was for, but it was war time and it may have been needed for the wartime effort.  We saved aluminum foil from gum wrappers by stripping the aluminum from the paper and making a ball.  These balls were used in the war effort.  And we flattened all tin cans and contributed them to the war effort.  Of course paper and rags were also recycled.

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When life got boring Mother would suggest working on a puzzle or getting out the “paint-a-number” kit.  I spent many hours in these two activities.

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    7.     MY MOTHER

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My mother was born on May 10, 1908 in Ridgway, PA, older daughter of Matilda and Henning Nelson.  She was given the name of Mildred Evelyn Victoria Nelson.  She had a younger sister, Esther, and a younger brother, Paul Henning.  Her father died in a railroad accident when Mother was in her early thirties Her Mother outlived her and was about 90 when she died.  I know little about Mother’s early years.  I believe the family lived in an apartment in Front St in Ridgway.  She had a nice contralto voice, learned to play the piano, and graduated from Ridgway Schools in the mid 20’s.

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She was employed by the local Chevy dealership as a secretary, office administrator.  She was active in the Bethlehem Lutheran Church and very involved with the Jenny Lind Society, a group of women that sang together and gave concerts.  I am unclear about the courtship of her and Henry Juers.  They were married on June 21, 1933 and lived in an apartment on Metoxet Street in a building owned by Henry’s Uncle Charlie.

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Mother suffered from mental illness and was in the State Mental Hospital in Warren, PA for about three months in the mid 1940‘s where she was given a series of electric shock treatments.  I remember my Dad borrowing Uncle Charlie’s 1938 Plymouth so we could go to Warren on Sunday afternoons to visit Mother.  I don’t remember any of the any of the events that lead to need to have Mother admitted to the hospital in Warren.  I do remember that my Grandmother, Matilda, came to stay with us while Mother was away, and she stayed with us for some time after Mother came home.

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Mother had a goiter removed and that time there was no thyroid medication administered after surgery.  I am not sure what impact that had on her demeanor.  I remember Mother’s behavior as somewhat extreme in that she would “fly off the handle” at times and other times she was calm and loving.  My Dad was one to avoid conflict so we were taught to not do things that would upset Mother.  That conflict avoidance was something that I learned easily and is still with me today.  It created some issues in Andrea’s and my relationship.

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Sometime after Mother came home from the hospital she took a job at the Elk County General Hospital as a night receptionist, working from  5 to 9 PM.  I don’t think she worked weekends.  Given that we did not have a car until the late 1940’s that Dad worked usually until 5, she would walk to the hospital, about 8-10 city blocks.  When I was in High School Mother and Dad took the job of janitors of the church.  They did this job together, cleaning, cutting grass, shoveling snow, ringing the church bell, etc.  I know money was tight and they wanted to send their children to post high school education - thus the desire and need for a second job for Dad.  I spent a lot of hours with them helping out.  I really enjoyed pulling the rope to ring the church bell.  It wasn’t so much fun dusting and cleaning under the fixed pews in the sanctuary.

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My parents had a very difficult time with the fact that their daughter, Clarice, married a Catholic (1955) It was particularly hard for my Mother and I think there was alway a level of sadness in her heart until the day she died. (1971).  During that time Mother had failing health.  Her emotional issues continued, although at a reduced level.  She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and had arm tremors and some difficultly walking.  She was self conscious about the tremors and became a little reclusive because of it.  She took what at that time was an experimental drug, L-dopa, but I don’t think it helped her much.  Her symptoms got progressively worse, and in 1970 (i believe) she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor.  The symptoms for Parkinson’s and the brain tumor were similar so the tumor was discovered only after it had grown quite large.  She went to the Cleveland Clinic for surgery and I remember visiting here there.  That was the last time I saw here alive.  I told her about the adoption of Pam.  She asked me to share Pam’s picture with the nurses.  

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The tumor was quite large, and Mother lapsed into a coma within a few days.  She was transported to the Elk County General Hospital where she survived with feeding tube for about four months.  My father never said so but to this day I believe he and the doctors decided to remove the feeding tube as the quality of life for both Mother and Dad was poor.

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Given all the difficulties and sadness that Mother experienced, and some of that rubbed off on other family members, most of my memories and feelings for Mother are positive and loving.  She taught me many practical things about living - cooking, ironing, etc - and the importance of loving and caring for others by her example as well as lessons she taught.

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8.  JOHN LARSON’S DAIRY BUSINESS              Feb 1, 2017

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As we sat on our front porch we looked down over the terraces (banks as we called them) and over the road to the John Larson property- house, gardens, and barn.  In that barn were cows and chickens, but I mostly remember the cows.  At times there as many as 10 milking cows in that barn.  To the right of our house and across the road was a fenced pasture where the cows grazed most of the summer.  And behind us were acres and acres of pasture and a very large apple orchard, all part of the Larson 

property and business.  These pastures and orchard were our playground where we hiked, played baseball, picked apples, played war on the several large rocks (as large as a house) in the orchard.  All of this area was fenced in with barbed wire fence to keep the cows from roaming where they should no be.

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Each day the cows would have to be brought in for milking so John and his helpers would have to go round them up and “drive” them to the barn.  It was fun to participate in this process from time to time.  The cows would come out of the pasture and have to cross the road to get to the barn, so we had to be aware of cars, etc and often the cars would have to stop until the cows were not longer on the road.  And of course frequently there was cow dung on the road as the cows did not discriminate when they needed “to go”.

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Once the cows were in the barn it was time for milking.  I remember the milkers carefully washing the udders before milking, and of course at that time milking was done by hand.  They milked into a several gallon stainless steel bucket. John Larson always enjoyed squirting those standing and watching and he was a great shot.  I never really go the hang of milking although I tried several times.  I am not sure if it was lack of strength or technique.  

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Cleanliness was very important as they sold unpasteurized raw milk.  As I remember the milk was sold mostly to neighbors in one and two quart aluminum pails, and delivered by workers (i did some delivery from time to time) to peoples doorstep.  When we got the milk at home we would put it into a large bowl and put it in the refrigerator.  The next day we would carefully remove the bowl and skim off the cream that had risen to the surface.  Since the milk was not homogenized the cream and milk would separate.  We then used the cream for coffee and other cooking needs.

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One final part of this story is the handling of manure.  At the rear of the stalls was a gutter in the floor where the urine and manure would be deposited and then sluiced into a large pit at the end of the gutter.  Once full, the pit would have to be emptied and people would come with trucks to haul it away for fertilizer.  In the springtime we would go there with five-gallon buckets and carry the manure to our garden.  It was great for the garden but hard on the muscles and it was quite heavy.

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9.  BASEBALL IN THE PASTURE         February 3, 2017

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There was a section of the Larson pasture that was flat and large enough for a small ball field and us guys spent many hours in that field.  Of course it was not without its hazards caused by an un-flat surface, frequent droppings from the cows that the baseballs would occasionally find or someone might step in, woods behind first base where baseballs would sometimes get lost, a small brook running through the outfield from left to right where balls and or people would get wet.  But on “Swede HIll” there was a lack of flat surfaces large enough for a small ball field.  As I remember John Larson never discouraged us from using this field for our games and he had his pasture fenced such that cows were not there often when we wanted to play.

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I was known to have a very loud, high-pitched voice and was not shy about using it on the ball field.  The field was probably about 500 yards from my home so when I was on the ball field my parents were well aware of where I was.

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10.  THE PASTURE AS A LARGER PLAYGROUND         February 4, 2017

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The large pasture and apple orchard behind out house and up the hill served as a major playground for many of the children in the neighborhood and town.  Besides more than 100 apple trees there were some very large “rocks” in the orchard and these rocks served as centers of activity.  All were readily climbed but some surfaces were vertical and high and were a scaling challenge.  One rock was called piano rock because at the top were two separate rocks arranged much like a piano and piano bench.  Another was a large collection of loose rocks, perhaps piled there years ago as part of the clearing of the land.  These rocks served as an area to build forts that protected us form “the enemy” when we had green apple fights or bb gun skirmishes.  Picnics on the rock were frequent.

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And for those of us with bb guns this are served as our shooting gallery, shooting at apples, twigs, birds, and whatever else we thought was a good target.

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In the winter time we used the pasture for skiing an sledding.  On pasture near the orchard was a large, sloping area where one  could get a good long run.  In those days all we had were strap skis so it was difficult to make quick turns so having an area where we could make long arcing runs was great.  If we wanted more excitement we went to the steep slope above the baseball field.  I had a lot of falls on that hill, but never got seriously injured as far as I can remember.  And of course we did a lot of sledding on the hill.

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    11.     THE BOY’S DAM             Feb 5, 2017

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Up on the hill not to far from the pasture where we did the skiing was a spring that created a small brook that flowed down a narrow gully to a fairly flat area where we were able to make a small dam, and we all called it the Boy’s Dam.  At times when it the dam was in good shape the water surface might have been 20 feet in diameter and a couple of feet deep.  But it was difficult to keep the dam that size and it was alway fun to dam things up and then break the dam to see the water flow out.  And kids from other neighborhoods played there as well and we were not very kind to each other as we always destroyed something we did not build.  

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But when the dam was full we would wade, sail boats, throw rocks, and generally have fun playing in the water.  We would spend hours shoveling out dirt and generally clearing the “pond” so it would be deeper and larger.  And we experimented with dam building techniques - rock, sod, dirt, sticks, boards- and frequently made a spillway as a place for the water to continue to flow on down the hill.  And getting wet was almost always part of the experience.

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When we visited Ridgway going to the Boy’s Dam was usually an outing, particularly when the children were younger.  I usually wanted to go there as it brought back memories and it was just fun to go there.

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12 PICKING BERRIES            Feb 6, 2017

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A major activity in the summer was picking berries - huckleberries (blue berries) and blackberries.  Most of the berry picking happened in the fields and woods in and around the John Larson pastures and the area near the Boy’s Dam.  And there were times when we went with Grandpa to his favoirite places, frequently near the camp in Croyland.  I could never keep up with Grandpa as he was a very fast picker, even though he only had two fingers on one hand.  I guess he was just more diligent and purposeful than I.  

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Picking huckleberries was calmer, no briars and they were close to the ground.  However they were smaller and it took longer to fill the bucket.  Ususally the best blackberries were in a patch with tall stalks and one had to reach through or trample down some of the stalks to get to the “big ones”.  So dressing for blackberries required covering of arms and legs whereas one could pick huckleberries in shorts and short sleeves.

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On of the goals of berry picking, besides keeping one occupied, was to have enough to “can” for use in the winter.  So there was some urgency in berry picking season to get to the bushes before others got there.  Another goal for me was to earn money by selling to folks who did not do much picking.  As I remember one summer I got an order for 50 quarts of blackberries to be picked for a neighbor.  Frankly I can’t remember if I was able to pick all 50 quarts but I believe I did.

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Once or twice we even processed elderberries.  What a job that is.  They are very small and grow in clusters on a bush.  We picked the clusters and put them in a basket.  Then we took them home, sat in a comfortable chair and began the process of stripping the berries from the cluster.  Due to the nature of this process our fingers were well stained with a very purplish-red color.  To be truthful I do not remember what Mother did with the elderberries.  I am sure she did not make wine, but perhaps jellly or jam.

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    13.     GARDENING  February 7th, 2017

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Having a productive garden was an important part of family life when I was young.  We used the food to help augment our budget and to provide healthy products.  So the first thing we had to do in the Spring was spade the garden, turning it over so it was loose and workable to plant.  We also worked in cow manure as we spaded, and as I have said previously the manure came from John Larson’s barn, carried in 5 gallon buckets from the barn to the garden.  Some of the first things to go in were onion sets to be harvested as scallions early in the year and large onions later.  Other early crops were peas and lettuce.  Generally we would turn the soil, spade, as we planted so that the soil was always workable when we put in the seed.  We had potatoes, pole beans, bush beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, beets, green peppers, corn (never had good luck with  corn as I recall),  We did not do things that I do today - kale and swiss chard.

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Now weeding and getting rid of bugs was an important part of having a good garden and that was something that was more difficult to keep up.  But throughout the year we would head to the garden from time to time to treat with insecticide  get rid of those nasty weeds before they encroached on the good stuff.  And in the Fall the garden had to be cleared and in good shape for next Spring and much of the dry vegetation was burned.

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And at harvest time much of the produce like beans and tomatoes was canned and things like potatoes, beets, and carrots were stored in the “fruit cellar” for use in the winter.  Frequently the cabbage was used to make sauerkraut.

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And of course we had lots of flowers, peonies, roses, marigolds, hollyhocks, snap dragons, etc,  I still have some of the white peonies in my yard in Cape Elizabeth that we grew in Ridgway.

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14  GRANDMA MARTINSON AND AUNTIE LOTTIE   February 9th, 2017

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Grandma Martinson was Grandma Nelson and Lottie Johnson’s Mother.  Grandma Marthinson and Lottie lived in a small house on Grant Road in the west end of town.  I do not remember any men in their lives as their husbands had died before I can remember.  We would go there to visit from time to time,  The house was small and very basic.  There was no running water.  There was a hand pump in the kitchen that one would pump when water was needed.   And because there was not running water there was an outhouse that one had to use when needing “to go”.  

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The other thing I remember about that house is that there was a pump organ in the living room, and we loved to go and pump and play that instrument.  Pulling the various stops to get differet sounds was great fun.

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I remember going to visit them when Grandma Martinson was quite old and ill.  At that stage of her life she would only speak Swedish so Mother was the only one in our family who could converse with her.  When Grandma Martinson died she was buried in the Oakmont Cemetery with her husband.  This burial plot was a frequent stop during our many visits to the cemetery.

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After Grandma Martinson died Lotti moved in with her daughter Ellen and Ellen’s husband, Bob Bullers.  They lived in a house very near in the same part of town.

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15.  BOB AND ELLEN BULLERS  Feb 10, 2017

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Bob and Ellen Bullers lived slightly up the hill on West Main Street, around the corner from the Martinson/Johnson house on Grant Road.  Ellen was the daughter of Lotti (Charlotte) Johnson.  It was a  comfortable, small house as I recall.  But most of the houses in Ridgway at that time were small.  Ellen and Bob had no children and I do not recall what they did for work.  Ellen was a very pleasant person and i can still see her smile.  Bob was pleasant as well and my stronget memroy of Bob is that he was almost always drinking a beer = most likely an alcoholic but that is an assumption on my part.  I never saw him out of control but he like his beer.

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Ellen had a sister, Edythe and she and her husband did not live in Ridgway.  I don’t remember where they lived but they came from time to time to visit and we would see them occassionally when we visited.  And I think there was another sister, the one who committed suicide.  Don’t remember much talk about her.

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16 missing 

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17.  HELEN AND BILL FOSTER   February 11, 2017

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Helen Bauman Foster was a cousin of my Dad and they grew up together in Wausau, WI.  Helen’s mother and my Dad’s mother were sisters.  After Dad’s mother died and his Dad left town my Dad lived with his grandparents and Dad spent a lot of time with the Bauman family.

I believe there were four children in that family, Donald, John, Helen, and another girl (Tutti?).

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Helen married Bill Foster and they lived in West Allis, WI.  Bill was an ex-Marine.  They had no children.  When I went to Wisconsin to grad school in Appleton I (we) frequently made the 100 mile trip to West Allis to visit Helen and Bill.  Given that they had no children they treated us a bit like their children.

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I don’t remember where Helen worked but I remember that Bill worked for a printing firm call Millprint.  Bill was also a Free Mason and one of his Mason friends owned a jewelry store.   When I was interested in buying a diamond ring for Andrea Bill arranged for us to go to the store and buy a ring, at a reduced price no less.  That was very important as I was a student with limited financial resources.

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On visit to West Allis was for New Year’s and there is a German tradition to eat raw hamburg on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.  Helen and Bill could not convince me that eating raw hamburg was a good thing to do.  I believe Andrea was the good sport and ate the raw meat.

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Upon retirement Helen and Bill moved to Fort Myers, Fl and had many wonderful years there together.

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 CHARLIE AND IDA JUERS  February 12, 2017

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 Uncle Charlie and Anut Ida - Charlie was he brother of Emil, Richard, and Otto.  They lived on Lincoln Street in Ridgway not to far from Emil and Grace. It was a very nice home and we were always on our best behavior when we went to visit.  Ida was pleasant but stern and could be very opinionated and critical at times.  When I knew them they had three grown children, Richard, Ruth Warneth, and Corrine Haam - all living out of town and not around very much. I believe Corrine lived in Hawaii and Ruth was the wife of a Lutheran Minister.

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Charlie was a Vice President at Hyde Murphy Company, a second in command to Sam Murphy. I am sure he was influencial to my Dad and Grandfather having jobs at Hyde-Murphy.   I remember him as a tall, stern German who had an impish sense of humor.  Charlie and Ida had a second home in the country that they called the farm.  It was clealy a gentlemen’s farm and they did do quite a bit of farming there.  What I remember most about the Farm was the garden in front of the house with a frog pond and a very large bird house on top of a 20-30 foot pole.  It probably was a martin birdhouse, and would have to be lowered from time to time to clean out the house.  We loved to go the the frog pond to catch pollywogs.  

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Another thing I remember was that there was not love lost between Charlie’s wife Ida and Emil’s wive Grace.  They were two peas out of the same pod, strong wills, very opinionated, and critical of many things.  Of course Charlie was a very successful VP and Emil was a janitor at the Masonic Temple so suspect that these differences in stature and success had some influence on the views and opinions of the wives.

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Charlie owned a number of apartments in Ridgway and one was on Metoxet Street at the corner of Spring Garden.  That is where my Mother and Dad lived when they were married in 1933.  My sister was born in 1934  and I was born in 1938.  Mom and Dad moved from the apartment to a home on Charles St about the time I was born.  Charlie and Ida did not think it was a good move for Dad and his family.  They never visited our family on Charles St and we think it was because we moved to a place that they did not approve of.  Who knows for sure?

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 19 MY DAD    February 13-14, 2017

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Henry August Lewis Juers was born on April 2, 1907 in Wausau, WI to Wilhamina (Minnie) and Emil Juers.  He was the second of three children born to Minne and Emil.  The first child, a daughter, died of pneumonia and the third child, Arthur, died of acute appendicitis.  So Henry grew up as an only child most of his early life.  When Henry was in is mid-teens his Mother died in a tragic accident while out for an auto ride with Emil.  They stopped on top of a hill to view a vista of a lake and the countryside.  Emil was out of the car and Minnie was inside.  Somehow the car started moving down the hill and ended up in the lake, I believe.  Minnie died, most likely of a heart attack, not of drowning.  Emil was devistated and left town for a couple of years, going to the Northwest to work and drown his sorrows with alcohol.  So Henry lived with his grandparents and spent a lot of time with his cousins, the Baumans.

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How he and his Dad got to Ridgway is not very clear to me.  Charlie Juers was in Ridgway at that time and most likely enabled Emil and Henry to come to Ridgway and work at Hyde-Murphy Company, makers of cabinets, doors, etc.  They lived at the YMCA and at this time Henry became one of the better ten-pin bowlers in town.

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Dad worked for Hyde-Murphy for about 30 years as an expert wood craftsman.  More on his work later.  I found it interesting that he did not transfer his talent for fine woodwork to our home.  Perhaps it was financial in that there was little money to purchase materials, or he needed to leave that at work and do other things at home.  Family life was hard given my Mother’s illnesses so caring for the family was a tiring activity.  We had a large garden and chickens to care for, keeping the house warm with a coal furnace was hard work, the house required maintenance like painting, changing screens and storm windows, no car until about 1950 so getting around took time and energy.  One of the ways I remember him relaxing was sitting in his rocking chair in the dining room, reading the paper and smoking a cigarette.  Neither he nor Mother drank alcoholic beverages - too many bad memories about the alcoholism of there fathers.

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Dad was a very calm and gentle person.  I rarely saw him angry enough to be any other way.  He did not like conflict and stressed to Clarice and me that we not do anything to upset Mother.  He taught me how to drive when I was 16, taught me family finances and how to budget, how to paint a house; feed and butcher a chicken, as well as how to pluck the stinkly feathers.  We hunted and fished together (mostly fishing), were on the same church bowling team.  He never talked much about his religious beliefs but hated to miss the Sunday Lutheran church service.  As a matter of fact he did not talk much at all.  He stressed the need for me to get an education beyond High School and devoted his life to making sure there were adequte resources for that to happen.  And he never put pressure on me to come back to Ridgway after college graduation.

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After Mother died he appeared to be a tired lonely man and lived out his days in Ridgway at 320 Charles St.   When he was diagnosed with liver cancer and offered the option of taking chemotherapy he refused and died about six weeks later.

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