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Saturday, July 5, 2014

True’s Miscellany / July 5, 2014 / Othelia (Tillie) Remembered, Born 1912 & Died 1930


I enjoy writing this blog for many reasons.  It’s like a journal, but not as solitary.  And, there are rewards, mostly esoteric I suppose.

Once in a great while you touch someone and it causes them to respond.  Sometimes, they agree and elaborate on their personal experience.  Other times, they explain to me why I’m wrong.  In either case, it makes me a better, more informed person.

In blogging, you have to have something you want to say, something you almost have to say, even if no one is particularly interested to hear it.  I hope that someday my grandchildren or great-grandchildren will read these posts.  I would like them to know more about me than just some yellowing photo in a cardboard box.

I wish my grandparents had kept a journal, I actually know so little about what they thought, what concerned them.  Oh, I heard little bits and pieces, funny stories, tragic stories; but not too much about what they thought day to day.  I will tell you one of those stories:

My grandmother inherited the family farm in Wisconsin.  The stipulation was that she and my grandfather were to care for her parents (my great grandparents) until they died.

This was a fairly large farm; and, like all families in those days, everyone (including the children) were pretty much involved in work from dawn to dusk.  The kids did go to school – a one room school house.  The family went to church every Sunday.  My grandparents worked very hard.  My grandmother had a crippled finger which was bent in a strange way.  “Oh,” she said.  “Pa and I were loading frozen hogs on the wagon, and one of them got dropped on my hand.”  “Never had a chance to get it fixed properly.”

They raised their seven children.  All of them grew to adulthood and had their own families – all, that is, except Tillie.  Tillie had graduated from high school and was a recent enrollee at a teaching college for girls in a nearby town.  She was experimenting with lipstick, something she hadn’t done growing up.  The story goes that she had unknowingly obtained some contaminated lipstick from a friend or acquaintance.  She must have had a small crack in her lip.  The lip became infected.  She was placed in a hospital.  My grandparents went to the hospital.  The infection progressed unabated.  My grandparents did the only thing they knew what to do.  They prayed, and prayed.  Tillie died.  She had just turned eighteen.  My grandparents never attended church after that.

As to what my grandparents believed in, as they aged, whether or not they believed in God, I really don’t know.  It was something that they avoided talking about.

My mother was eight when Tillie died.  Mom remembered the last day she saw her.  Tillie was leaving for boarding school.  My mother told Tillie, who was dressed for the occasion and anxious to begin her new life, how pretty she looked.  Tillie came over to my mother, hugged her tight and kissed her.


True Nelson