Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stella crochets.

This blog today is dedicated to my grandma's favorite hobby, Crochet.
I picked up crochet from my mother, and my grandmother. I can't say they taught me, but they let me watch them crochet. My grandma was a pencil crocheter where the needle goes up from the hand when you crochet. I ended up being a knife crocheter where the the needle goes down through your palm. My mother bought my sister and I a collection of books which I refer to as the "Golden Books". It was full of great explanations of the stitches. It had patterns, and colored photos. Probably the equivalent of watching You Tube videos today.
My first project ever was a huge Granny Square. Did you know that you can crochet a granny square indefinitely? I just kept going around and around. It was the 70's and it kept going "around and around" in beautiful orange and brown variegated yarn. It was very dated. Not sure what happened to that piece.
Grandma made beautiful afghans. She liked to do "Mile-a-Minute" patterns. There is great joy in completing a project. I can think of a least two afghans I still have that my Grandma made me. I have a purple and green "Mile-a-minute" that she made me maybe ten years ago. I also have a sunny yellow ripple afghan that she made me when I was in high school. Do I dare say it was the late 70's, early 80's?
The Stella Ripple afghan is a pattern I put together for my Grandma just a couple of years ago. The original ripple pattern had been passed among friends in the little town we all grew up in. It needed to be drafted to paper before the simple combination faded into the earth with all those crafty ladies.

Here is my latest pattern for a Square to hold button "chocolates".

Chocolate Box Crochet by Melinda Miller

41 chains.
Row 1: dc across.
Row 2: In second chain from hook: 2dc, fpdc, 6dcfive times, fpdc, 2dc, ch & turn.
Row 3: 2dc, bpdc, 6 dcfive times, bpdc, 2dc, ch & turn.
Row 4: repeat row 2
Row 5: working in front loop only in dc, repeat row 3.
Row 6-9: Repeat rows 2-5.
Row 10-13 Repeat rows 2-5.
Row 14-17 Repeat rows 2-5.
Row 18-21 Repeat rows 2-5. Fasten off.

Overlay with CC: In the loops remaining in row 5, 9,13,& 17 sc across. Tuck in ends.
Trim in CC with sc around. Three sc in corners.

Copyright 2010 by Melinda Miller

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Stella continued

The first great tragedy Stella had to suffer in her life was the lose of her brother Willie. Willie was 19 years old when he died of pneumonia, about 1920. Penicillin would not be discovered for another eight years. It would not be readily available until 1945. Willie had gone to a local gym to play basketball. He left the gym with a wet head making his immune system weak and susceptible to disease. Willie had everything to look forward to in life. He was engaged to be married to his sweetheart. He left many hearts broken the day he left this earth. The remainder of Stella's life she would talk fondly of her brother. One of those rules my grandmother Stella lived by would be "let bygones be bygones". She didn't talk much about tragedies of the past. The people who had gone by were exactly that. We should live for the here and now, she would say. I like to believe all that is true, but I like to throw in the rule that we should remember the past lest we repeat it. I want to remember the past. I want to not repeat the lessons others have learned before me.
Stella finished high school in Ashton. She and her parents had moved to a farm closer to Mellette. Garrett was share cropping now. Stella was looking forward to finding a job. Northwestern Bell had opened a new phone office in Mellette and they were looking for phone operators. She took the job. She also took a boyfriend, Louis. Louis was a Mellete boy, very handsome, a wild child. Stella's parents didn't approve of this character she had connected to. Louis' mother and father were divorced. His mother had moved to Minnesota, and his father had taken a new wife. He was being raised by the village who were keeping an eye on him for their own sake as much as for him. The Arthur's took him in on occassion. The Howard's on the east end of town looked after him some too. Louis was good with animals, the farmers liked to hire him to help with weeding of the herds. He got involved in some of the local cattle drives too. He was a teenager. He could look after himself. It was the late twenties early thirties. He could run some moonshine around the county, he was good at evading the sheriff. He made good money doing that. He was determined not to work with his brothers who wanted to take over their father's butcher shop. He would take on his own adventure. He decided electrician. He didn't mind high spots. He went out on the trucks to fix high wires all over the country. It made him good money. He wanted to make an honest women out of Stella, make her parents like him, and he mostly wanted a farm. He wanted a farm with his own horses more then anything in the whole wind world.
One night he went on a moonshine run. Everything was typical the pickup went smooth. He did the drop off successfully, but the sheriff saw him. Louis jumped in the car and high tailed it to the Howard's barn. He lost the sheriff long enough to store the car in the barn. He casually walked from the barn, but the sheriff saw him. The sheriff and him were now on foot. Louis dashed to the phone building where Stella was working. He was hoping the sheriff hadn't seen him.
"Stella hide me. The sheriff is chasing me . . . He just saw me leaving my drop." he said.
Quick thinking Stella told Louis to hide under her petticoat, he did. The Sheriff entered the building.
" Stella have you seen that young O'Donnell boy in here?"
"Why no officer, not in here." Stella said innocently, grabbing the next call to the party line.
The officer after scanning the room left knowing he could have a talk with boy later.
Louis was right where he wanted to be, wrapped up in the legs of the girl he knew he was going to marry some day.
"When are you done?" said Louis from beneath the skirt.
"Shh, he might come back", hushed Stella. She knew he wouldn't but Louis needed to be put in his place.
Louis and Stella did make a date of it that night, and in the spring of 1935 they were pregnant with my mother. They were not yet married, since Stella's parents didn't exactly approve of Louis. Plus that Louis' family life was complicated. Stella and Louis grabbed a couple of friends for witnesses and headed to the next county in Faulkton SD. They got hitched in May 1935, and Coral arrived in October 1935.
The first eleven years of their married life they lived in a small house on the north side of Mellette. They both worked as hard as they could to earn enough money to buy a farm. They ate food that the neighbors would give them. They raised chickens and ate eggs sometimes three times a day. Louis' new wife turned out to mellow his father. That helped. Louis' father Mike ran the grocery store, and Olive his new wife was more than happy to watch Coral when they needed time to themselves. Stella had her work cut out for her. Louis was ambitious, but also reckless. He still wanted to run moonshine. She had to put an end to that. It did end one night when Louis came home with gun shots all along the car. Louis also liked to drink the stuff way too much as well. Stella decided that the one piece of amunition she had against this wicked evil of alcohol was his reputation. Louis wanted people to like him, it was very important to him. She was vocal to all of Louis' friends whenever he would get out of hand with the alcohol. Eventually, Louis did grow up. The ambition won. In 1946, Stella and Louis bought their farm. They moved to the farm with their two daughters. My mother became the boy of the family since Louis needed help. They worked hard. Eventually Louis bought a couple of real nice quarter horses with blood lines to boot. He was not a rodeo person. He was a horse show kind of person. He took his Chico, & Billy to the horse shows and won many ribbons. Stella's man was a prim and proper cowboy. The hat, the jacket, and the well polished boots.
It was a good life, with good friends. Louis pondered the corn crop, and Stella focused on raising her girls to be proper ladies, proper pioneer ladies just like her mother had done with her. Coral was a tom-boy, and Joy was her little girl. Joy helped her with the house and the farm yard, and Coral was out in the fields helping her Dad.
Before Stella and Louis could blink their eyes their girls were grown up. Coral wanted to go to school in Kansas City, Joy wanted to move to Minneapolis. Another turn and their girls were both married with children of their own living their own lives.

More next time . . .

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Beginning - Stella

July 6, 2010

I've spent my entire life in the Middle Border. Hamlin Garland, who was the original son of the middle border, inspires me to tell you the story of my life from the Middle Border.
I am the spawn of the Pioneer. I can trail my roots back to some very interesting people who wanted a better life. Some of these people experienced nothing but great tragedy. They took a risk to move west and grasped the horns of life with both hands.
Let me start by telling you about my Grandma Stella. Stella was first generation Dutch in America. Her parents thought Ashton, SD would be a fine place to farm, and make a life for themselves. Stella was born at home, no hospital. The third child and only girl. She was the apple of her father's eye, Garrett, and as most teenage girls, lacked understanding of her mother, Cora. She enjoyed the attention of her older brothers, Willie and Rob. Willie was her favorite, sometimes not quite understanding the complexities of Rob who was the middle child.
Garrett worked as a hired hand, and share cropper. Cora raised the family with a strict hand. Garrett was content with his life. He had married his dear, Cora, whom he had known almost his whole life long in Finkum, Netherlands. He had sent for his bride to come to America. Cora arrived in the spring of 1905, and they were married in the Methodist Evangelical church on May 17, 1905. Their friends Adelaide and Fred, stood with them to recognize their union before God and Country.
It may sound quite romantic at this point, but there were struggles. After all this was the frontier they were living in.
Stella grew up learning how to be a proper Pioneer woman. There were few modern conveniences. It was lots of hard work and few rewards. One of the best rewards to Stella was her toy dog. When she was good her mother allowed her to play with this little ceramic dog that was black and white about three inches tall. In Stella's world there was not much time to play. Everyone had work to do.

- to be continued -