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Haag, Rita / If you look back, it's not that far: memories of Mary Stella Sutter Haag recorded at age 103

Part I: Growing up in Perry,   pp. [2]-30 PDF (9.0 MB)

Page 6

Shopping was unheard of. When someone had a birthday, it
was a quiet occasion celebrated at home. When asked if she ever
bought presents for her mother, Mary said, "Well we didn't have
any money. The only money we got was from our parents. Maybe
ten cents once in awhile." She said she doesn't remember even
knowing what money was and that probably they had no idea what it
was used for. "You have no idea, it was just necessities, what
the people had to have. Ya , I often think--them kids, what they
get, $25 for a present. Some $50, some $60. But you know, the
money's here."
But there were other things they could do for their mother,
sometimes whether she wanted them to or not. "We used to fix
mother's hair. We didn't like it just the way she had it. She
had a big bun on top, so we used to kinda fix her up. She didn't
like it. We'd braid it, but nobody wore it that way. They
always had the buns on top. There was no permanents you know.
Those that had curly hair were lucky. And Rose was one of them.
She had curly hair. Her hair was always fixed nice."
Planting a garden has been as much a part of the seasons in
Mary's life as falling leaves in autumn and blizzards in winter.
"I used to help plant the garden. Dad plowed it and dragged it
and Mother and I or else the boys helped. We made the lines with
string, so far apart and then we'd plant things. We had lotta
stuff in the garden. Lettuce and beans, and sweet corn in the
field and potatoes in the field. Once we had a wagon box in the
field and we all went out one day and we filled it." A wagon box
full of potatoes may have seemed like a lot, but Mary said none
of them were sold. The family needed all of them.
Unlike today, most dairy farm families didn't milk in the
winter. They'd put the bull with the cows, so all births would
occur in late spring when they'd begin milking for the year.
Part of the reason was that each farmer had to haul their milk to
the cheese factory every day. "That was about two miles, the
factory was. In the evening (Dad) milked the cows, hauled it in
the evening, hauled it in the morning. That time we had about
140-150 pounds, 200 pounds maybe was the highest."

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