Making the best of a rough decision

(Part Four)As members of what was known as the Eckley community in the 1920s, the energetic couple farming the old Schuck farm was known to everyone as Charlie and Mrs. Myers.

I find this description very telling, as Charlie was a jovial friend to all, and by every description I have ever heard, his wife was much harder to know.

Anna Chloe and Charlie raised three children, the middle child named Helen described as one of the most kind and caring community-minded young ladies around. Helen loved school, and very early on voiced her intention to become a teacher.

Life was filled with farm chores, church and music, with time spent singing around the piano. Charlie and Helen had beautiful singing voices and Virginia enjoyed being their pianist.In January of 1928, Charlie sent a telegram to his Pittsburgh brothers.

“Mother seriously ill. If can come, come at once.”

Their mother passed shortly after their arrival at her bedside at Charlie’s home. She was 68 years old and had worked hard right up to the end. There were no funeral homes then, and the Eckley community turned out to help with the work of the funeral.

As my aunt Miriam Young Slabaugh points out in her Myers history, which provides much of what this column has shared, the announcement from the family thanks “those who furnished machines and all who assisted in any way.”

The machines would have meant motor vehicles used to transport people in the funeral procession to the cemetery, which was some distance from the Eckley community. For some, it perhaps was their first time riding in a car, and for all, just seeing the long procession of “machines” would have been noteworthy.

Virginia recalled the huckster wagon calling at the home with groceries and her father would buy her a large dum-dum sucker for one cent.Junk men would come, asking for papers, rags or metal. Gypsies would travel the back roads in packs, and Virginia felt fearful as her parents hid her until they had passed on through.

Helen graduated high school at 17. The evening after graduation, the class play was given, with Helen playing Miss Woodward, a woman who believes in the stars. Charlie was so proud of this self-assured, pretty daughter who was headed for college to become a teacher.

She began dating Raymond Young, a farmer who lived with his parents down the road a couple of miles. In January, 1930, their engagement was announced. While teaching at a one-room school known as Mud College, Helen lived with a family near the school, and her diary entries portray a happy, content young woman.

Sept. 8, 1930 she writes: “School starts. My second year and I love it. I have 2 new pupils.”

A week later she writes, “Canned peaches, pears, corn, tomatoes and chili sauce to keep our hungry little family-to-be from starving next spring and summer.”

Helen married Raymond on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1931. Helen was torn by the fact that choosing to marry meant giving up her teaching career, a universal reality at that time. As she lovingly put a scrapbook together of her teaching days, complete with photographs taken of each pupil, she was bidding farewell to her passion to teach.

Raymond had recently saved the family farm from foreclosure after learning that his father was struggling financially. He moved his new bride in to the large Victorian homestead, sharing the home with his parents and their four younger children who were still at home.

In many ways, it had to have been stressful or at the very least uncomfortable, but Helen shared her father’s remarkably upbeat personality and was able to make the best of a rough situation. In May, 1932, Helen gave birth in that home to her first child, my father Stanley.

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

Leave a Comment

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.

eNewsletter

Get our Top Stories in Your Inbox

Recent News