Myrtle Venvertloh Waddoups
Contributor: BarbaraLeishman Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
My parents are William Fredrick Venvertloh and Lenora Duesdicker. My grandparents all came from Germany. My dad's nickname was Dick. He was a plasterer by trade. My dad died January 1, 1917. I was sixteen years old. In those days the funeral processions were carriages drawn by horses. My father was buried in a black suit. My mother died 13 July, 1934. I was 34 years old. My parents had thirteen children. I was the fourth child. My mother had two sets of twins; only one lived, that was Mildred. Four children died in infancy.
We never owned a home. We always lived in the city and we rented. Rent was cheap. A three bedroom house only cost five or six dollars a month rent. We had two bedrooms. Eight children slept in one room. It had three double beds, a dresser, a chair and a closet. We had rag woven rugs that covered both bedroom floors. We didn’t have vacuum sweepers so we would sweep it with a broom and big clouds of dust filled the air. We would take newspaper and wet it in a pan and squeeze the water out a bit and pick it in pieces and drop all over the rug so when we swept the dust would go on the paper.
We didn’t have heat in our bedroom. Mother would put a dish pan of water in our room at night to draw the frost out of the room and it would freeze into solid ice. Before we went to bed, we would warm logs of wood in the oven for hours and then would put two in each bed to put our feet on to get them warm. If the wood was rough we would wrap them in a towel. We never did have a bathroom. In the morning we put our clothes on and run outside to an outhouse in the yard. We didn’t have toilet paper, we used newspaper or pages out of a catalog, it was softer.
We bathed in a wooden wash tub set in the kitchen. We put chairs around it and hung quilts around. We only bathed once a week. The little ones were bathed first, and then we would add a tea kettle of hot water so the next one could bathe. About three people used the same water. We didn’t have water in the house; we had a cistern out in the yard. We carried water in a bucket into the house, and we used a long handle dipper to drink out of. The dipper always stayed in the bucket. We had a wash pan sitting on the same stand as the bucket. We washed our face and hands every morning and night so we were always clean. This cistern was filled by the rain. We had rain gutters on the roof and pipes to carry it into the cistern. We would turn a handle to turn the water out on the ground until the rain washed the dirt off the roof and when it was clean we turned it into the cistern. We drank this water and no one ever got sick. We turned a handle or crank to get the water out. The cistern cover was closed tight so no dust or dirt could get in.
In mother’s bedroom we had a stove but we didn’t keep a fire in it all the time. We had a baby cradle in there. We kids would lay on the floor and rock the cradle until the baby fell asleep then we would crawl on the floor to the door to get out of there real quiet.
The kitchen floor didn’t have linoleum. Two of us kids would scrub it once a week on our hands and knees with a brush and homemade soap. The boys also took their turn. It was a big room about thirty by thirty feet. It took a long time, but we always kept it clean. The other kids always had to sit on a chair until the floor dried. No one ran around on it. We had a cook stove in the kitchen. It didn’t give much heat. In the winter when it was real cold, there was ice frozen on the windows. It didn’t thaw all day so we couldn’t see out.
We never grew a garden. A man came three times a week with garden products in the summer on a wagon drawn by horses. He sold vegetables of all kinds. He would ring a bell and all the ladies that lived near came out with a pan or bucket to buy produce. He stopped about twice in each block.
Another thing we had were mattresses made out of corn husks. The mattress was like a big bag as big as a bed. Down the middle on top was an opening about three feet long. We put new dry corn shucks in every fall. We could put our hand in it and shake them up and it was comfortable and cheap.
Another thing we had was a lot of tooth aches. We didn’t own a tooth brush and I never remember any of us going to the dentist. My mom pulled our teeth or we waited until they fell out.
All the girls had long hair. We didn’t have shampoo – we used bars of hand soap. For hair oil to keep our hair back out of our eyes, mother used lard and rubbed it in both hands and wiped it in our hair. We always had our hair in braids.
We never owned a car but I remember what the first cars looked like. Some had big wheels and some were electric and they ran on batteries. We rode the street car if we went very far. We always took a newspaper. On Friday, Mother would look in the paper for sales on groceries. She would write on a paper what she wanted. I would walk about one mile to town to that store and get the groceries. Then I would walk to the corner and get to ride the street car home. That was one of my jobs. Coffee cost twenty cents a pound. We bought coffee beans. We had a little mill that ground the beans. We just ground enough as we used it. We bought butter. It was in a pound container but it was white like lard. A pill came in the parcel about the size of my thumbnail. It had yellow coloring. We warmed the butter so we could stir it and then put the coloring in. We didn’t have refrigerators then but we had a cellar under the house. It had a dirt floor. We drank black coffee every meal no matter what age we were. We didn’t drink milk or even use it on our mush. We ate sugar and cinnamon on our mush. About four times a year we got a treat. A dairy place close to our house sold skimmed milk. We would buy a gallon for fifteen cents then we would go to the cracker factory with a flour sack and buy broken soda crackers for twenty cents for a full sack. So our treat was crackers and milk. For breakfast we each drank a cup of black coffee and ate one slice of buttered bread. We only had butter for breakfast. The other two meals we used jelly or syrup. When the bread had an air hole in it, we would pinch off the corner and put it in the hole so the syrup wouldn’t run through the hole. You all know what bacon grease looks like. We used to call it fat butter and we spread it on bread. We really thought that was a treat.
Mother could doctor us kids for any ailment we had with tea we bought from a drugstore. Worm wood tea was used when we needed it, sassafras tea to purify our blood and chamomile tea for when we were nervous. In the Spring we always took sulpha in a spoon of molasses for our spring tonic. We took it about three times once each week and then we would be healthy. If we ever acted like we didn’t feel good, we always got a laxative. That generally made us well.
When we would go to the store, the clerk gave us treats for buying something there. One store gave us candy, one peanuts and the butcher gave us a half of weenie. That was the way they had of drawing kids to come to their store.
On Saturday I used to go to the bakery and buy two coffee cakes. They were round. It was kind of like bread but it had cinnamon on top. We got two for fifteen cents. We always had that for breakfast on Sunday morning. We really loved that treat.
I can remember when my sister Dorothy had chicken pox, when she was a baby, and mother said we all had them, and for us not to tell anyone the baby had them so we wouldn't have to stay home from school. I can remember when I had the mumps and oh how I was sick. I couldn't eat and I cried. My sister Leona laughed at me and the next day she had them.
I went to Berrian School – a public school in Quincy. We only lived two blocks from the school. We always went home for lunch. When any one of us reached fourteen years old, we could quit school and go to work no matter what grade we were in. The kids had to work to help keep themselves. School let out at noon and we had one hour off so we carried hot lunches in a basket to men who worked in factories. We went to our neighbor’s home and got the lunch and carried it about a mile and got home and ate our lunch and got back to school. We got five cents a day or thirty cents a week for carrying dinner. I carried two, one in each hand. We didn’t spend our money. We saved it to buy our shoes and clothes. We could get a pair of high top all leather shoes for one dollar and fifty cents. We each had a Sunday dress and a pair of Sunday shoes and we had our school clothes. We never wore our Sunday clothes to school. Our mother sewed our clothes. She bought cloth all out of one piece of material to sew each girl a dress alike. We wore one dress all week to school, the next week we had a different one.
I can remember going to a school but can't think of many happy occasions. I only went thru the seventh grade and had to quit and go to work doing house work. My first job was helping a lady that had twin girls. I got a $1.25 a week. I always went home to sleep at night, I never worked on Sunday. My next job I did housework. I got three dollars a week.
I used to help my mom wash on a wash board with homemade soap. I was so little I had to stand on a box to reach the water. When we got them rubbed we put them on the stove in a wash boiler to boil the dirt out. Then with a wash stick like a broom handle, we would take the clothes out of the boiler and put them in a pan then put more clothes in to boil. We had a wringer we turned by hand to wring the clothes out. It was fastened to the side of the tub. Later we had a wash machine we had to work it by hand. It had a wringer on it. We wore a lot of hand-me-down clothes and a lot of made over clothes friends gave mother. We always went barefoot in the Summer to save shoes.
We played a lot of quiet games. The table was big and we used to sit under it to play house and sew. Our dad always read the paper in the evening and we had to be quiet. He would look at us and say our name and we knew enough to be quiet. Our dad never spanked us but our mother did. We didn’t fight and quarrel a lot in our home but there wasn’t much love ever showed to each other. I never saw my mother and dad kiss each other. The LDS people are so loving. It seemed so different when all of Ivan’s folks kissed me when they first met me. It means a lot to me when my children come to see me and they give me kisses.
My mother never saw my husband. When my three children and I went to Illinois to visit, he didn’t go. We lived on a farm in Clifton. She only saw Victor, Mildred and Elaine when they were little.
I used to be in school plays and mother didn't have money to buy my costume so the teacher would buy the material and mother would sew it.
My mother belonged to St. Peter’s Church; it was a German Lutheran Church. My father belonged to St. Mary’s Catholic Church, but never went to church after he got married. I never saw my father or mother in church. We never had prayers in our home, only the little ones we learned in Sunday School like: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I awake, I pray the Lord my sole to take.” All us kids went to church every Sunday.
We always went to the church mother belonged to until my oldest sister was twelve years old. Then we quit that church because it was German, and went to the English Lutheran church.
We always had nice Christmases. We got clothes, games, puzzles, dolls and sewing kits. We learned to sew by hand for our dolls. One thing I remember is I wanted a little black doll. Maybe I was eight or 10 years old. My mother made one out of black stockings we used to wear. The face was embroidered with buttons for eyes. It was big enough to wear baby clothes and a hood. I took it to school and set it in the window with all the other girl's pretty dolls. I thought mine was as pretty as theirs were.
Oh how well I remember when I was little, on Christmas Eve we always used to walk to church. It was about one mile to walk but it was city blocks. We listened to the program. There was a big tree from the ceiling to the floor. When the program was over, we each got a sack of candy and nuts and an orange. We didn’t get oranges very often. We would eat the peeling just like an apple. On the way home we went on the streets that had stores with toys in the windows. We would put our noses close to the window and say I wish I had this or that. Generally it was snowing or snow was on the ground.
Christmas morning our gifts were placed on the table where we always sat to eat. Our gifts were never wrapped. There were 9 kids so our things were on our pile. We generally got a new dress mother sewed and maybe some shoes, a game or puzzle and a small doll so we could sew clothes for it.
Our table was big and in the middle of the floor. We would sit on the floor under the table and play house. We always had a Christmas tree but it didn’t set on the floor – it was just a small one. It had candles on it. When mother lit them we sat on chairs and watched them burn. We would sing Christmas carols until the candles went out. We didn’t have electricity. We didn’t run around when the candles were lit. The tree might catch on fire. We always put the tree up the night before Christmas and took it down New Year’s Day.
My Dad died New Year’s Day. I was 16 years old. That Christmas we mostly got what the Salvation Army and Elks Club brought us in charity baskets. I always remember their kindness to some poor little kids. They brought baskets of food and some toys. If I’m ever in Salt Lake and see the Salvation Army people standing on the corner with a bell and a pot to put money in, I always give them something, and I remember what they did for us when we were kids.
When Marie was little I used to get on a bus in front of our service station at 1 noon and go to Preston and do Christmas shopping and come home on the 5 o’clock bus. We always had a tree. It set on a table. We always put it up the day before Christmas. I put on lights first and the kids put trimmings on.
Ivan would lock up the service station early on Christmas Eve and come in the house and help put gifts out. We never wrapped up gifts in those days – just put them on chairs or davenet (sofa), etc.
When my girls were little they always liked paper dolls. They would always beg to cut them out before Christmas so they could play with them that day. The paper doll books with babies would have furniture for them like high chair, buggy, bib and clothes so I would let them cut them out before. We always had a happy Christmas.
I went six years to the English Lutheran church, and only missed one Sunday. I had gone with my aunt Thresa to St. Joseph, Mo. to visit some relatives. I received a certificate and a gold pin. It said 100% on it. That meant I went five years without missing one Sunday.
We always had to walk about one and a half miles to get to church. Sometimes the little kids would get so cold they would cry. I would take them into anyone’s house we were going past, even if I didn’t know them and ask if we could get warm. We would get home to dinner and then mother sent us to another church. They called it the South Side Mission. They had singing, praying and study classes with teachers. Our mother sent us there to keep us off of the streets and give us something to do. Once they got a new piano at the mission and they gave me the old one. We never took lessons but Sister Wilma could play by ear. The one we went to in the morning was the English Lutheran Church and the one in the afternoon was a Methodist Mission. When we got home on Sunday afternoon we got a treat – ice cream cones were two for five cents or mother would buy ten cents worth of loose candy and divide it up into piles. We never had candy bars in those days. Sometimes we got a bag of popcorn with no butter on it for our treat. We didn’t have many sweets. We got pie on holidays and cake on Sunday, and cookies on Christmas. Then we would take a walk to the park or to the cemetery. We liked to go there to see how many new graves there were in the last week. I always shined shoes on Saturday so we could go to church on Sunday.
April 15, 1914 when I was fourteen years old I was confirmed a member of the English Lutheran church by Rev. Binghaman. At these services we took our first communion and that is the same as our sacrament. We only took it every three months. It wasn’t passed around like it is here. We went in groups up to the alter and knelt down and the minister passed it to us. Instead of water and bread it was grape juice and wafers.
Every summer our church would have a picnic in the park. We enjoyed that. Our mother would give us twenty five cents to buy popcorn and ice cream and Cracker Jacks. We would run races, etc. to get a nickel as a prize.
My mother and three sisters every summer met in the park with all our cousins and enjoyed a picnic dinner. We would stay all day and run and play and visit. It was a lot of fun. We often went to our aunt’s and grandma’s house on mother’s side of the family to eat and to visit. We visited once in a while with dad’s folks, but we never ate there. We had too many kids and it made too much work.
We always had fun with the neighbor kids, playing marbles or ball. We used to sit on the curb under the street lights with all our friends and just talk. Nine o’clock our dad would whistle and we knew it was time to come in the house and go to bed.
My task in the home was to tend the younger children (my younger sisters and brother). I would walk a long way to tend a baby and wheel it in a baby buggy. I always loved to take care of children.
Our dad always had work. We never did own our own home, we always rented.
In World War I, – 1917, flour was rationed, we could buy 25 Ib. of wheat flour if we bought 25 Ib. of substitute flour, such as potato flour, rice flour corn meal and rolled oats. It was hard to get money to buy all that and it made such awful bread. Mother used to cry. She didn't know how to feed us with the money she had. We always lived in the city and never raised a garden.
My brother Harry and I used to go to the railroad tracks and pick up coal in a sack. When the train would switch tracks, pieces would fall off cars and we’d carry it home on our backs for six blocks and go back the next day. My mother did buy some coal but this helped out.
The only apples we had was when we would go to the cold storage house, where they stored apples and threw the bad ones out in a pile, and we hunted them over and cut the good part out and took them home to eat.
When I was eighteen years old I left Illinois on April 1, 1919 and came out west with my girlfriend Josephine Snowhill. She was eight years older than me. We stopped in Denver and worked at housework six months and we had our plans to make enough money there to go to California. While in Denver, I met Ivan Waddoups September first 1919 and only saw him one evening. It was the first Monday in September – Labor Day. My girlfriend and I went out to an amusement park it was like a carnival. We paid to get through the gate. When we got inside two men were sitting on a bench. One was in a sailor uniform it was Ivan. My girlfriend and I started to walk to the sideshow and these two men followed us. When we got in front of the show where the man fell in the water (when one threw a ball and hit a certain spot), the one boy spoke to me and said, “Here is a sailor who would like to speak to you.” I smiled so he knew I approved of it. We four walked around together taking in the sights and activities. Josephine and I worked at the same house for Mr. and Mrs. Swan. They had three children. That night we rode home on a street car. We four sat on a lawn bench on the Swan’s yard. It was nearing midnight and was time for the last street car toward town, so we stepped inside the house and Ivan gave me his address. I expected him to call me up but he never did. He was shipped to Salt Lake. There he was discharged from the Navy. Then he went to Lewiston, Utah where his folks lived. After a few weeks had passed I wrote to him first, because he didn’t have my address. He answered my letter. In October I met Ivan in Salt Lake on our way to California where we had stopped for two days. He showed us the State Capitol and the Temple grounds. He asked me if I would marry him, if he would go to California when the run in the sugar factory was over. I told him I would! He left Salt Lake at six p.m. for Lewiston and I sure thought he was wonderful! I met a lot of boys in my life but I never liked any of them. I was always considered as a man hater by my girlfriends. We left the next morning for Los Angeles California. We both got a job doing housework for Will Rogers the movie star. He had a wife and four children. We had a lovely Christmas there and they gave us a lot of nice gifts. We worked there six months. On April 2, I left Los Angeles and arrived in Stockton, California the next day. Ivan was there to meet me. He was working at construction. I got there on Saturday and got married on Sunday afternoon. It was Easter Sunday, April 4, 1920. We were married by a Methodist Minister. The minister brought two old ladies in for witnesses because we didn’t know anyone there.
While living in Stockton we looked in the paper to see if we could find out where the Mormons held their meetings. We attended Sunday School in the Branch there and I enjoyed it very much. I enjoyed talking to the missionaries. We lived in Stockton almost a year. Ivan worked on construction work. We then came to Lewiston, Utah and lived with Ivan’s dad. Ivan’s family was surprised he had married a non-member. Ivan’s dad was a good looking old man with white hair, eighty one years old. Ivan had three brothers and four sisters. Ivan’s mother passed away when Ivan was a young boy. Ivan’s dad and I would sit in the house talking about religion and that is where I learned about this church.
April 15, 1921 my first child was born Victor Venvertloh. I got blood poisoning and was awfully sick. I was administered to by Ivan and his father and was healed. I wasn’t even a member of the church then. We moved to Burley, Idaho in September 1921. Ivan worked for wages for farmers and later rented a farm. While there Ivan’s brother Wilford came off his mission and he came out and lived with us and helped run the farm. He taught me the gospel and I was baptized by him in Burley Fourth Ward August 6, 1922. It was a great day in my life. My first position I held was a counselor in Primary and I hadn’t seen a Primary before. I enjoyed my work with the children. In October 1924, Ivan’s father gave me a patriarchal blessing which has been a comfort to me all my life. When he laid his hands on my head, I felt the Spirit so great, I cried. He said, “My dear, you have been highly blessed and rescued from the world and brought into the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by the guiding hand of your Heavenly Father and you have been blessed with a worthy companion who holds the priesthood.” We lived in Burley for four years.
Our second child Mildred was born January 20, 1924 in Burley, Idaho. We bought our first car a Ford Sedan in November 1925. We paid $750 cash for it. We moved to Clifton, Idaho January 1926 on a farm. Our third child Elaine was born May 17, 1926. Ivan was a class teacher for the Deacon’s Quorum and I was a Beehive teacher. On April 4, 1928 we were married in the Logan Temple and had our three children sealed to us. It was just eight years, on the same day we were married so that made two very happy days for me. Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Winward went with us.
On June 3, 1929 I took a trip to Quincy, Illinois to visit my folks. I had not seen them for 10 years. I took with me Victor eight years old, Mildred five and Elaine three. We stayed till August 15, 1929. We traveled by train. My sister Wilma returned with us. She later married Carl Viehweg November 1929 and was baptized 3 January 1931. She went to the temple for the first time 18 October 1963. I had waited for the day to come when one of my folks could go to the temple with me to do the work for our ancestors. I’ve done a lot of work there in the temple – that brings much happiness to me.
We were all glad to get home and Ivan was more than glad for he was so lonesome on the farm all summer alone.
In January 1930 we lost our farm. We couldn’t make our payments and we sold our cows. I was sick and so was Ivan. He had his teeth pulled and got pneumonia. We moved in a house owned by Bishop Williams and our fourth child Bernie was born there April 28, 1930. When he was two months old we moved to Dayton, Idaho. Ivan ran a service station on the corner where you turn on the road to Preston. We only had two rooms but we managed. March 1931 we moved into a cute little white house owned by Emma Phillips just north of the church house. It had four rooms and bath. That was the first home we lived in with hot water and a bathroom. We had a nice yard, garden, orchard and a nice big patch of raspberries. We tried to buy this house for years we kept up the payments, when we couldn’t do it, she rented it to us. We lived in this house for seventeen years. Emma Phillips owned the house. She lived with her sister in California. She wanted to come back to Dayton so she asked us to move. We had built a building 20 x 20 feet in front of this house, we had a service station and we sold confections. In 1934 we took over the Post Office. It was real nice. We made a good living. It was a trying job; Ivan worked from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week for years and years. He was at one time manager of the Dayton Baseball Team. I would tend business often.
The summer of 1946 we bought a house from my sister Wilma. It used to be on a small farm in Clifton, Idaho. Wilma moved on a bigger farm. We paid her $700 for it. Carl’s brother moved the house to Dayton for us. It cost $350. It was a heavy house; it used to be the depot house at Clifton. It was a two story house. We put it on a full basement. We made one bedroom in the basement for the boys and the girls all slept upstairs. Ivan worked very hard on this house to make it nice for us. We were very happy here. We moved in this house the first part of December. Ivan was sick most of the time for the next two year off and on not all the time. He died in July 13, 1949. The children all helped to tend the business. Vick tended it all the time for about five months when Ivan was real sick. After he left us, the men in the ward put new shingles on the house, Victor and Millie put wall board on the walls upstairs on the walls and ceiling. They finished it up real nice. That fall I had the oil furnace put in. It cost $800. The Summer of 1948 I borrowed $200 from Ivan’s sister. I bought white siding for the house. Vick and all the kids put it on. It really improved the looks of our place. I paid Hattie the money back when I collected insurance money.
In the Spring of 1947, we had a man come and move the building that the post office was in over by our house on east side of the road just across the street from where it was built.