Tuesday, January 26, 2010

30 West Street, Geneva—Small Town America in the 1930’s, by Aunt CB

A lot of us today are clipping coupons, watching closely for sales, and stretching our meals. All this reminds me of the Great Depression and the 1930’s so I asked Mom to give us a slice of life in Geneva.

Just to get us in the mood (ahh, Glenn Miller, isn’t it?), here are some events in the latter part of the Thirties:

--In 1934, Bonnie and Clyde were killed by police, and three months later, Hitler becomes President of Germany.
--In 1936, Jesse Owens is the star of the Summer Olympics, much to the embarrassment of Hitler who hosted.
--In 1937, the Hindenburg explodes into flames in New Jersey, and Amelia Earhart disappears over the Pacific.
--On November 1st 1938, Sea Biscuit upset War Admiral in the 'Match of the Century'.
---In 1939, ‘Gone with the Wind’ comes out, and the Nazis invade Poland.

In May of 1931, after school let out, the Taylor Family moved into 30 West Street in Geneva, to an area called ‘Christian Hill’. They lived in this house until the summer of 1944, Lucille’s junior year of high school.

Aunt CB writes:

Lloyd earned $100 per month at first, and rent was $20. Then, he gave Ethel $8 per week to feed a family of eight, and she did it! We had chickens, lots of eggs, grew raspberries in the backyard and Lloyd brought home two quarts of milk every work day from the station’s herd of cows (eight cents per quart), plus a milk can of skim milk per week for fifteen cents. Sugar was six cents per pound—I know because when I wanted to make candy, I had to buy my own!

Until 1937, we had no refrigerator, only a wooden ice box that Arnon had made, that we occasionally could afford to put the sign in the window to have the ice man stop. We only got 25 cents worth (choices were from 25 cents to one dollar), but always raced out to get George Abraham to give us ice chips (he later became our 7-8th grade science teacher). Ethel had no vacuum cleaner either, but that was no problem as we had no rugs, only linoleum, so she swept through daily.

To cook in the kitchen, we had our grand cast iron stove with warming oven, purchased when Lloyd and Ethel married. Here is a picture of a stove much like ours; the right side had a reservoir for hot water—in winter, this was our bath water! Although I don’t know what they paid, Sears and Roebuck’s 1900 catalog showed one for $25, and one like our living room stove for $20!

In the winter, there was a coal stove in the living room, and heavy drapes between that and the dining room where there was only an archway. Daddy took the coal base burner stove down every spring and put it up every fall, His biggest problem? Getting stovepipes in the correct position! We used to love the small isinglass (or mica) windows in it and with a matchstick you could pierce a tiny hole in one near its edge which was fun BUT merited you a swat from Daddy!!! (Editor’s Note: Hmmm, somehow, I think Lucille being quite young here played a part—perhaps an older sibling dared her to do it so that they could watch the ensuing ‘fun’?!).

Coal was delivered right to a cellar window-- the coal truck backed up and pulled a large metal chute from the back, positioning it through the window into the proper space for it in your cellar! We loved to watch it, but seldom got to as we only bought enough coal to heat the two stoves, one in the living room and one in kitchen. There was a furnace in the house but it needed so much coal to heat the large house that Daddy never could afford to use it!

The newspaper, the Geneva Daily Times, was 18 cents per week-- no Sunday delivery. In church, Mom gave 25cents per week in her weekly envelope. We each had two cents tied in the corner of our handkerchiefs to put in our Sunday School collection. Baby sitting gave you 10 cents per hour with maybe 15 after midnight!

Those were the days that a dime would pay your way into a movie, and Doris had a baby sitting job every Saturday afternoon with a five year old girl down the street-- taking her to the movies. This is when they had gifts awarded to ticket holders and Doris was the luckiest one ever!! She won a toy stove, a set of toy dishes and numerous other toys that we ALL played with! When she was busy, Harold was pressed into the action for movie chaperoning, and I doubt he was upset over it! I was busy minding the five year old son of my music teacher while she gave others piano lessons [ that is how I paid for mine--that and 50 cents!!!].

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Aunt Sylva! By Aunt CB and Kathryn Barron

Aunt Sylva, By Kathryn Barron:

My Mother (Gladys) was the baby of her family. She had three older sisters. The oldest of them was Leona and then Sylva and then Phyllis.

My mom told me that when Aunt Sylva and Uncle Freddy went on their honeymoon, she went with them. I remember visiting Aunt Sylva and Uncle Freddy a lot when I was a child. Our family would drive up to Edmeston during some weekends in the summer. I know that we stayed with Aunt Sylva when some of the babies were born. When Laurie was born, Gail, Michael, and I stayed there. This was a great visit. I remember exploring her house as much as we wanted. She had two pianos and we were allowed to 'play' one of them. Aunt Sylva seemed to have unlimited patience with us.

I loved to cook with her. My Mom was never a great cook so Chic and I learned how in despiration, but Aunt Sylva was a great cook and baker. During this visit she made a "Chocolate Crazy Cake" with "No cook Custard icing". She let me help her a lot. I loved it and I loved the cake. She gave me a copy of the recipes before I left. I later used that recipe to make a cake for my parents' 50th anniversary. I made sure to tell Aunt Sylva that I used her recipe and she made sure that I knew that it wasn't her recipe. She got it from Esther. So, to her, it was Esther's recipe. Even more special. Esther was Sylva's 'special' cousin.

Ruth and Leona, Esther and Sylva, Doris and Phyllis, and CB and my Mom. Lil and Ethel were real considerate to provide all those girls! They were always there for each other. Still are. CB is/was awesome to my Aunts.

When I was a teen my Mom and I clashed often. Whenever I saw Aunt Sylva she had a sympathetic ear for me. I could gripe all I wanted and Aunt Sylva listened lovingly. She probably got the other side's point of view too. She loved me and she loved my Mom.

I remember how heartbroken she was when my Mom died. In the turmoil after, she always let me know that she loved me. She was solidly supportive. The pictures I cherish the most from this last reunion are the ones that Chuck Lockner took of Aunt Sylva with my daughter Beth and her family. Chuck got a few and they are priceless.

By Aunt CB:

It was 21 years ago that Sylva had cancer of the stomach and had some removed (thereafter requiring 4-5 meals a day). Ruth Taylor Maney started to write her a letter weekly at that time to show her love and support for her. Thus, when Sylva was ill and looking for an assisted living spot in the Lutheran Home, from a sporadic letter writer I changed to a weekly one (sometimes two!), to show my love for her and keep her spirits up. It became a 2 way street of love and upholding spirits, past memories and genealogy!

During one of these exchanges we’d discussed teeth and she was losing another of her very few original ones. Thus, when Jack and I stopped in on a visit, we were met with:

“Your teeth are like the stars,” he said
And pressed her hand so white.
He spoke the truth, for like the stars
Her teeth came out at night!

This was typical of Sylva, the only person I’ve ever known who could store doggerel in her head and retrieve it in an instant at the appropriate time! Intelligent, clever, handy with any craft, professional sewer, organist and piano player, good cook, just an all round wonderful person, she’d “come a long way, baby.” Married at 15, this quiet, shy girl had matured agonizingly into a self sufficient adult, who with real reason requested that the final song heard at her funeral’s end was, “I did it my way.”

During her housekeeping years she’d coped with kerosine lamps, sad irons, pumping well water, a wood cook stove as well as heating one, and out houses (vessels under your bed as Grandma Baker would say).

At the age of 14, when the hired girl was let go, she took over the job for the summer, (Leona was already helping a couple in a nearby village) getting up at 6:30 a.m., building a fire to cook breakfast for all, cooking all meals and cleaning, doing the wash, ironing, all this with no inside water. (She did have electricity at home though.)

She never had much money to work with. While expecting Freddie D., she and Fred came to visit us in Geneva for a small vacation. Clothing was getting to be a hardship for her as her girth had expanded but her pocket book had not – so Mom (Ethel Taylor) looked in her church rummage sale room and found a lovely blue print cotton dress that fit with extra room. Sylva and Ruth found a couple yards of ruffle which they sewed from the neck line to the hem in front (carry the eye up and down, NOT sideways) and with another hand me down she was all set and happy as a lark!

The Howland and Taylor families were always close. Ruth, Arnon and Leona, Esther and Sylva, close in age and both piano players and organists, Phyllis and Doris and Gladys, Harold and me. We have always meshed! Being a farmer’s wife offers no vacations, so Sylva encouraged us to come to her for ours, then she took hers with us–and many came and enjoyed.

Philly’s girls, Gladys’ kids, Carol Ann Maffei, any of them might be there but somehow there was always room and food for all–and most important, a willing ear and open arms to help another over a rough spot.

Sylva was no stranger to adversity. She had learned to go around obstacles rather than through them to achieve her desires and meet her needs. But she never lost her understanding heart. For that we will always miss her.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Making Ice Cream, By Aunt CB

Apparently, ice cream has been around a long time—references to this luscious concoction have been found as far back as the 4th Century B.C. And, here in America, it was served by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to their dinner guests.

But, to make ice cream, in the 1930’s or so? Let’s let Aunt CB tell us:

Along with taffy pulls, and Arnon making sea foam or penuche, we also made ice cream. That was an event!

There had to be big chunks of ice available outside for this to be possible. And, there had to be time for Mom to cook up the custardy solution which became ice cream. We always made vanilla, never bothered with any fruit in it, didn’t last long anyways.

Then, somebody would drag in one of the big washtubs and put it on the kitchen floor. Somebody else would collect big chunks of ice, place several near the backdoor, and put two to three in a burlap bag. Another somebody would hammer on the bag to break the ice into smaller chunks, while still someone else poured the cooled custard into the metal canister, screwing the top on tightly. The canister was placed into the center of the wooden outside pail so that the turning handle could be fastened tightly to the top.

Then, chopped ice was packed in the area between the canister and the outside wooden pail, with some rock salt sprinkled in. Then, you were set to begin and we all took turns, turning the handle to rotate the paddle inside the canister.

Soon, it became too hard for the little ones to turn, as the custard became slushy inside, and then harder and harder. Meanwhile, the ice and salt mixture was constantly being replenished, as it melted.

The entire wooden bucket had been placed inside the washtub at the beginning and now could be seen why as the melted ice poured out weep holes in the wooden edge, and still more ice had to be added.

It seemed to take forever, turning the handle, until Lloyd would declare that it met enough resistance to prove that the inner ice cream was pretty thick.

Then, the good part—Remove the top of the canister and pull out the paddlewheel, covered with gobs of creamy ice cream and this was your first taste.

We all took a spoon and yummy! The canister left within its prison of crushed ice was covered tightly and still more ice packed around it. Left as it was for two to three hours to ‘ripen’, or set even harder, it was the most nerve wracking part of the job. It went so slowly, but eventually, the time came to ‘dip in’ and we all got our share. Lovely!

Monday, January 11, 2010

More on Aunt Sylva, With Pictures by Chuck Lochner

Chuck sent these pictures out to most of our cousins today--THANK YOU Chuck, for doing all of this.

We who could not make it to the calling hours or the funeral, truly appreciate it.

Look for more about Sylva's interesting life here on the blog, around when her birthday comes up----HINT: Look to the right in January Birthdays!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Aunt Sylva

Dear One and All,

As some of you know, Our Wonderful Aunt Sylva died last night about 8PM. I know that so many of you felt lucky to see her this past August at the Baker Reunion.

As you see from the information below, Calling Hours for Sylva will be this Sunday in Edmeston, NY from 2-4PM at the Houk-Johnston-Terry Funeral Home.

The Funeral will be Monday at 11AM, at the same funeral home.

During the Funeral, Jeffrey Emhof, Freddy D's son and Sylva's grandson, will be playing three hymns on the organ per Sylva's request:
--My Hope is Built on Nothing Less
--Abide With Me
--The Church's One Foundation

Also, as Sylva requested, as the family leaves after the funeral, Frank Sinatra's 'I Did it My Way' will be playing. Aunt CB, or Mom to some of us, laughed and said to me 'Yes, that sounds like Sylva.'

Aunt Sylva, you will be missed!!

Sylva H. Emhof, 88, formerly of Edmeston, died peacefully at St. Lukes Hospital in Utica on January 6, 2010 with her family by her side.

She was born January 20, 1921 in Lisle, NY the daughter of Elmer M. and Lillian (Baker) Howland. She attended High School in Marathon, NY. Frederick F. Emhof and Sylva were married on April 8, 1936 in Lisle, NY, he predeceased her on April 28, 1998.
Sylva was a member of the Saint John's Lutheran Church, West Burlington, and had served as their organist for 36 years. She retired from Central National Bank after twenty-two years. First National Bank of Edmeston had previously employed Sylva.

Sylva was a member of the Wharton Valley Grange and was their Treasurer and pianist. She also was the Treasurer for Edmeston-Burlington-West Exeter Council of Churches, the Tops Club, Church Women United, and the Hobby Club.

Key highlights of Sylva's personality was her enduring wit, her passion for shopping, table bowling, Bingo, and the TV program Sewing with Nancy. With her day of birth coinciding with the Presidential Inaugural Ceremony, January was considered the Birth Day Month, with a special emphasis on the 20th every four years.

Sylva is survived by her children and their spouses Frederick D. & Linda Emhof of Burlington Flats, Linda K. & Norris Arnold of Edmeston, and Christine Jenkins of Edmeston; her grandchildren Michael (Donna) Emhof of Sodus, Jeffrey (Donalu) Emhof of Edmeston, Carol Arnold of Oneonta, Kathleen (Roger) Miller of Homestead, FL, Tim Arnold of Edmeston, and Virginia “Cookie” Jenkins of Greenville, NC; 13 great grandchildren; 8 great great grandchildren; her sister Leona H. Maffei; her special cousins Lucille “CB” & Jack Kinsella; Dawn Tuttle; her brother-in-laws Ernest and Stewart Emhof; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Her husband Fred, her sister’s Phyllis Mudge & Gladys Wood, and her great great grandchild James Messick predeceased Sylva.

Funeral services for Sylva will be held on Monday January 11, 2010 at 11:00 am at the Houk-Johnston-Terry Funeral Home, Edmeston with Rev. Paul Messer and Pastor Jay Henderson officiating. Calling hours are Sunday January 10th from 2 –4 at the funeral home.

Contributions may be made in Sylva’s memory to the Lutheran Home 108 Utica Road, Clinton, NY 13323.

Condolences may be sent via the Houk-Johnston-Terry Website at hjtfuneralhome.com

Monday, January 4, 2010

January Birthdays—2010 By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Happy New Year to All!

We’ll start with Aunt Ruth—Both of them celebrate birthdays this month, but Ruth Taylor Maney found her way into a local Center Lisle newspaper report back in 1918, alongside then important information of how thick the January ice was:

“Mr. and Mrs. Byron Baker received word recently of a daughter born to Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Taylor of Bascom. Mr. and Mrs. Baker are both wearing proud smiles as this is their first grandchild….The farmers here are putting in a supply of ice for summer use. The ice is about twenty-four inches thick.”

Also in Ruth’s family, Michael James Maney has a birthday this month.

As I said at the top, the beautiful Aunt Ruth Inez Baker (sister of Ethel, Adin and Lil), who, like me, carried a less than whole heart through her shortened life, is also a birthday girl this month.

In Aunt CB’s family, James Matthew Kinsella, and Liz Lehmann (Dan’s wife) are celebrating birthdays.

Picture One: Ruth Maney
Picture Two: Ruth Baker, May 1st, 1904, perhaps the last picture before her death in December of that year.
Picture Three: Mike Maney
Picure Four: Jim Kinsella busy explaining how the Revolutionary Battle at Saratoga REALLY happened.
Picture Five: Liz Lehmann

January Birthdays, Part Two:

In Aunt Doris’ Family, Stephen Francis Hawkes and Mary Ann Cannon Hawkes (Charlie's wife) are the birthday kids.

Bryant C. Taylor--son of Floyd Taylor--and his wife, Evelyn Taylor, share birthdays eight days apart ( Happy 88th Birthday, Eve!).

In Aunt Lil’s family, her husband-- Elmer Howland, and her daughter, Sylva Joyce Howland Emhof celebrate January, as does Sylva's great grandson, Adoniram Donald Emhof, son of Jeffrey and Donalu Emhof, grandson of Freddy D and Linda.

Picture One: Steve Hawkes
Picture Two: Mary Hawkes (make sure you check out her grandson Jonathan’s picture in December birthdays—both are motorcycle kids…!)
Picture Three: Bryant and Evie Taylor
Picture Four: Elmer and Aunt Lil in front of their store
Picture Five: Sylva, 1976

January Birthdays, Part Three:

Also on the Baker side,
Dawn Coleman Walker (Phyllis Howland's daughter), Justin Henderson (son of Ron Henderson--grandson of Wendell), and Allen Smerchansky (husband of Beth Barron --daughter of Kathryn Wood Barron), Geoffry Max Body-Maffei (Neil Maffei's son), and Norris Arnold (Linda Emhof's husband) all are Birthday Kids this month.

Picture One: Dawn and Bernie
Picture Two: Justin Henderson
Picture Three: Nick, Allen and Allena Smerchansky
Picture Four: Norris Arnold