Jean asked me to marry him in September of 1944 so the girls at the office decided to have a bridal shower for me..
It was a great shower and everyone was having a good time . We were playing all sorts of “shower “ games. The game I most remember had a list of company names on the left side of the page and we were to name the product made by the company example General Electric made light bulbs.
All the companies listed were city things and all used electricity and since we had no electricity on the farm I wasn’t doing to good with this game. I didn‘t see any John Deer or Moline tractors listed.. I finally found a company I was familiar with. So I said “Hey, I know one, Eureka is chicken feed” Everyone looked at me and laughed. Eureka to them was a vacuum cleaner. You know the old saying, You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl.
At that time women could no longer work outside the home when they married. I know this sounds ridiculous this day and age but at that time men were considered the head of the household and therefore needed the jobs to support their families. When the older women at work heard that I was engaged, they would call me aside and encourage me to quit the job. They would say look at me ,I’ve been here twenty years and I could have married a doctor or lawyer but I was making such good money. I didn’t want to quit. Look at me now. What do I have?
Jean called me one day to tell me he was being transferred to a prisoner of war camp in Mayhill New Mexico. He asked if I’d marry him and go with him. He asked and was granted a ten day delay in route. I took part of my vacation, went home and with the help of mom and dad planned the wedding in a week.
This was November and I wanted a white wedding dress. I couldn’t find one in Seneca so I went to all the nearby towns and finally found one in a store in Sabetha. They even had a veil and long white gloves to wear with the dress. I called my friend Mary Alice Luebbe who was in nurse training in Kansas City to be a bridesmaid. She seemed pleased that I had asked her. I told her we didn’t have time to get to particular about the bridesmaid dresses on such short notice so any formal she had would do. She borrowed pink formal to wear and it looked very pretty. And so we were married on a beautiful winter day November3, 1944. Mom kept the phone lines busy and all my aunts, uncles and other relatives were at the mass . Mom had a dinner that noon for everyone . Jean was surprised at how many relatives I had . I was related to almost everyone in that county. Father Matthew said he was glad I was marring someone from out of that area so we’d get some new blood in the town.
We left the following day to go Roswell New Mexico. We took the bus to Topeka where we met a soldier driving to Dallas. He said we could hitch a ride so we did. We took a train from Dallas to Roswell. We got to Roswell late in the evening on Wednesday. It took that long because we were on a civilian train and the troop trains had priority so we waited several times on a side track and waited for the troop trains to pass. We checked into a small motel. About nine o’clock that night there was a knock on the door. Since we didn’t know anyone in Roswell we were apprehensive about opening the door. The knock was consistent so Jean finally answered the door to find two men from the red cross. They had been looking for us since Sunday. They identified themselves and asked Jean to step outside. They told Jean that my mother and father had been seriously injured in an automobile accident and were not expected to live. I was to come home at once. . Jean immediately called the army to get another ten days off to take me back to Seneca. We borrowed seventy five dollars from the red cross and took the Santa Fe train back to Topeka. My brother Al met us at the station and took us back to Seneca.
This was a very traumatic time for me. From the time I was a little girl mom always said. If anything happens to dad and I be sure you keep this family together. I don’t want the family all split up with one sister or brother here and another there. So here I was just married and the oldest of ten with little baby brother only fifteen months old. I prayed a lot and so did everyone else. The catholic church had special masses and communion services for them.
Father Matthew came by the first week I was home to take me to the hospital in Omaha Nebraska to see mom. She looked terrible. Her face was black and blue. She had several broken ribs a broken arm and one leg had been broken and pushed up so it was eight inches shorter than the other. The leg was in a cast hoisted up with a pulley and weights on the end. I don’t remember what mom and I talked about but I was relieved to see her alive. She remained in the hospital in Omaha for three months. I didn’t see dad because he was in the hospital in Kansas City with a broken neck. I’m sure he was in a cast from the neck down.
I took over the household chores while Bill and Al took over the farming. I became increasingly worried about Christmas. I knew Jean and I could not afford to buy the presents, Aunt Kate came over one day and told me not to worry because they had things worked out. Sure enough Santa came as usual and each of us received several little presents. I think from the people of the catholic parish.
Mom came home from the hospital the following February. She was still on crutches and pretty crabby. I guess I would be to if I came from the nice quiet hospital to a houseful of kids and noise..
I left a week after Mom got back home from the hospital to meet Jean in New Mexico. Dad was still in the hospital in Kansas City when I left and I don’t remember when he got home. Mom told me my place was with my husband and she said she could handle things I thought she was right so I left to be with Jean in New Mexico.