Sunday, January 3, 2010

January 3rd: A Very Special Day

My Uncle Ralph remembered this special day of January 3, 1920, when he and his McPherson family lived in a two-story house situated along the banks of the Mississippi river about 20 mi from Little Falls, Minnesota. There was a snow storm in progress with "the temperature at about 40 below," when his dad told him to go down to the barn and put the wagon box on the sledge. His mother had most likely nodded to her husband, saying “Jabe, it's time.” Jabez Burns McPherson knew what that meant – a new babe, the eighth child in their family. Ralph,the oldest son and at 15 already worked alongside the men, made his way to the barn. He remembered that he “put the wagon box on the bobsled, the side boards 3 ft high & fill the box with hay & blankets.” He then drove the horse drawn bobsled seven miles through the snowstorm to the village of Belle Prairie to pick up the midwife.

According Uncle Ralph, the "old Indian midwife Axie Root" had helped deliver his sister Marjorie almost decade before. After he put the midwife in the bobsled, he said that he would never forget how “she looked sitting there in the box all bundled up & with that corn cob pipe always in her mouth, staring at nothing & just grunting if you spoke to her. I was ... afraid that she would set the hay on fire but it was snowing hard ... & besides I don’t think the pipe was lit.”

And so it was that ninety years ago, Verna joined her brothers and sisters in what my Uncle Ralph described as “the nicest place we ever lived. It belonged to a couple that made their money running booze from Canada to Chicago. The house was two story painted white & in the summer time smelt of lilacs. The rest of the buildings were in good shape. The pasture was all wooded & along side the Mississippi for about a mile with some nice picnic spots along the river. The river at that point was about 300 yds wide (a big city block). The only thing in those days nothing was modern out in the country. Along close to river you had wild currants & gooseberries. The pasture was full of blue berrys & Hazelnuts (Filberts) & the meadows full of strawberries.”

A special day it was in 1920, and today, ninety years later, we celebrate that special day with our dear Aunt Verna who turns ninety today.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY DEAR AUNT VERNA
WHO TURNS 90 YEARS YOUNG TODAY.
SHE IS ONE OF MY McPHERSON KISSING AUNTIES,
AND A GORGEOUS RED-HEAD
AND HAS THAT “RED-HEAD” TEMPERAMENT.
HER OLDEST BROTHER USED TO TEASE HER BY
CALLING HER “RED”
AND THEN PUT HIS HAND ON HER FORHEAD,
HOLDING HER AT ARM'S LENGTH.
HE WOULD LAUGH AS HIS GUTSY LITTLE SISTER
PUMMELED THE AIR TRYING TO LAND A BLOW.
IF HE WERE STILL HERE,
HE WOULD PROBABLY LAUGH AND SAY
“SHE HASN'T CHANGED MUCH.”

TODAY THERE IS SO MUCH I WANT TO SAY
TO MY DEAR KISSING AUNTIE,
MY DEAR AUNT VERNA.
IT WOULD FILL A BOOK.
PERHAPS SOMEDAY I'LL WRITE THE BOOK,
BUT FOR TODAY, I WILL JUST SAY
THANK YOU FOR LOVE AND LAUGHTER;
FOR TENACITY AND TRUE-HEARTEDNESS;
THANK YOU FOR BEING PART OF MY LIFE.


6 comments:

  1. Well, Joan, you have done it again! What a wonderful post, I could only hope to ever write as beautifully as you!

    Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Great post, Joan! Even though it's not labeled as such, it's a great one for Sentimental Sunday!

    Happy birthday to your Aunt Verna!

    Renate

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  3. Happy Birthday to your aunt Verna! Enjoyed your post Joan!

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  4. What a great story. Your Aunt Verna is gorgeous, to boot.

    Cathy

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  5. Happy Birthday to my Aunt Verna from Sue

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  6. Due to some technical difficulties in the above post, here is Sue's poem for Aunt Verna's 90th Birthday Party:

    Uh! Oh! Aunt Verna turns 90 today,
    My! Oh! My! What present to buy?
    I could buy her a potato peeler,
    But she does not like to cook.
    I could buy her a rake,
    But she is not much into gardening.
    Maybe I could give her a personal shopper,
    Oh, No, she is the shopping queen.
    Maybe I could get her a pair of shoes,
    But she has enough shoes to stock her own shoe store.
    Maybe a personal trainer,
    But he would have to be 6'3 and 26 to meet her specs.
    Maybe I could rent a guy for the day,
    But it would be hard to match her other 3 special guys.
    My Oh My, I do not know what to do,
    What do you give an aunt who has everything and
    goes and buys it if she doesn't.

    I know what to get her!
    She has given us 90 special years marked by laughter,
    Zest for life, playfulness, love of family, loyalty,
    and a drive to excellence.
    So, Verna as you open my package to you,
    count every one of the 90 ways you are special to me.

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