Saturday, July 15, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 23

This week's question involves food - school food, to be exact. Some of my memories are fond, others not so much.

What are your memories of school lunch? Did you bring from home or eat at school? How did the food and your experiences change from school to school?

My kindergarten was only half day, so I had lunch at home after the bus dropped me off at the corner. From 1st-7th grades, I attended Holy Trinity Catholic School. They barely had a lunchroom there, much less a cafeteria, so mom packed lunches for my brother and me every day. Once each semester they would have a hot lunch consisting of beef burgers, chips and homemade desserts. The moms would prepare and serve the meal in the gym. It was such a treat to see my mom during the school day, and to have something different to eat for a change.

There are a couple of other things that stand out in my mind. One is that during lent, we could eat meat on Fridays. All those tuna fish sandwiches smelled horrible in the coat closet! No one had insulated lunch boxes in those days. The second was the day my brother and I knew that we had a half day and didn't need a lunch. Mom made us take one anyway, and we ditched our lunches in the shrubs at a neighbor's house. Wouldn't you know the lady would choose that morning to do yard work, found the labeled paper sacks, and called our mom to tattle on us. She was not happy with us, but we ate the lunches when we got home - early, just like we thought.

Meredith Junior High School
The junior high school I switched to in 8th grade must not have left an impression on me, food-wise. I'm guessing it had a cafeteria as it was attached to the high school, but I honestly have no recollection it. I probably continued to pack a lunch for financial reasons.

At the high school I remember going through the food line with my friends. I bought the same thing every day - an orange and two peanut butter cookies. It cost me twenty cents. Once in a blue moon if there was something special on the menu and I had some extra money, I would buy my lunch.

When I got to Iowa State, if you were in their housing program you paid for room and board. I still remember that the cost was $525 per quarter (the university was on the three quarter system at that point) for the room and meals. We received a punch card good for three meals a day, except on Sundays when only two meals were provided. You were assigned a dining hall, and your punch card was only good there. Most of the food was actually pretty good, but I remember being thankful that dining hall duty was not my job in the work-study program I was in. Sunday nights I would eat popcorn or heat up a can of soup in my hot pot.

My senior year I moved off campus into a mobile home with another girl. Cleaning, paying bills, grocery shopping and cooking were all skills that have benefited me throughout my life.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 22

As I look at the various prompt questions I can select from each week, it makes me sad that I did not ask my parents and grandparents more questions. I know they told stories when I was growing up, but they just didn't interest me at the time. Of course now I wish I had written them down, or even better, recorded them.

Here is this week's prompt:

Do you know the story of how your parents met and fell in love? What about your grandparents?

It was 1941 and my father, Roy Kubler was twenty-four years old, living with his parents and two of his sisters, and working as an assorter for the Railways Express Agency in Cincinnati. The Railways Express Agency delivered freight from the railroad car to the customer, and Roy’s job entailed the routing of packages through the express terminal. 

My mother, Catherine Crusham, was the third oldest of eight children. She had dropped out of high school after completing her junior year in order to help support the family. She worked at a sporting goods manufacturing factory sewing basketballs. In 1941 she was twenty-one and living with her parents and six of her siblings.

They met when Roy was out driving with a friend one pretty spring afternoon in 1941. Catherine was standing on a street corner with her cousin Joan Armstrong when the two young men happened to pass by. As Roy's friend was acquainted with Joan, they stopped the car to chat. Roy was immediately attracted to Catherine's red hair and sparkling green eyes, and she to his tall stature and quick wit. The two began dating and found common interests in their backgrounds, music and dancing.

Joan on the left with Catherine in 1941
But WWII had cast a shadow over the light of their love. Anticipating that he would shortly be required to enter the military, on 10 January1942 Roy and Catherine applied for a marriage license. They married quietly on 17 January 1942 at Resurrection Church in Cincinnati, with only Catherine’s sister Margaret Crusham and their brother-in-law Lawrence Wambaugh in attendance. Two months into their marriage, the Army Air Forces called Roy into service.

While they had a difficult beginning to their marriage, the foundation held for 47 years until my mom was killed in a car accident in 1989. The example they set contributed in part to all of their children having successful, long-term marriages.

The story of how my grandparents met is one I don't know. I will be making a trip back to my birthplace later this year, so it is a question I will ask of my aunts. And this time I will listen, and write it down.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 21

For this week's question I decided I was going to modify one of the ones from Family Search regarding holidays. It is almost July 4th, so I want to write about that particular holiday.

What is your most memorable 4th of July?

fireworks
My dad went all out for July 4th when we lived in Chicago. He bought a ton of fireworks and shot them off in our back yard. The neighbors would gather to watch, and it was quite a party. One year my brother dropped a firecracker on my left foot. Now, we lived in Chicago from the time I was several months old until I turned 5, so my brother could not have been older than 6 when this happened. How he got his hands on a firecracker, I don't remember. It hurt like the dickens, and I carry a scar on that foot to this day.

snakes
After we moved to Des Moines where the houses were much closer together, dad didn't put on the big display like he had done in the past. But we always had sparklers and snakes that we were allowed to set off each year. That tradition my husband and I carried on when our own children were old enough to be responsible with them.

The last time that I saw my mother alive was over the 4th of July holiday in 1989 when she and my dad stopped here on their way to Colorado to stay with my brother for a couple of weeks. We all sat outside and played with the sparklers and snakes. She was killed in a car accident on their way back from Colorado later in July. So this holiday is always a blend of celebration and sadness for me.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 20

Wow, it's hard to believe that this is my 20th post for the 2017 Family Search 52 Stories project. For others participating in the project, I guess they would be on week 24. But I took February off as I was writing daily for Family History Writing Month, so I'm not going to feel bad that I'm off a few weeks. The prompt for this post involves academics.

What do you consider your greatest academic achievement - earning a degree, passing a challenging class, getting high marks on a test or project, reading War and Peace?

Iowa State 2014

I didn't have to think too long for this question. While I am proud of my undergraduate degree from Iowa State University of Science and Technology, I wasn't given a choice regarding my post-high school education. My dad told me I was going to go to college, and further that I would attend Iowa State where my older brother was enrolled. I wasn't interested in science or technology, nor did I have the skill set for either. I wanted to go to the University of Iowa, which had (and still has) an excellent writing program. But dad was adamant and you just didn't argue with him, so off to Iowa State I went.

It became abundantly clear following graduation, marriage and a move to St. Louis that an undergraduate degree in Family Services was not going to open employment doors. While my degree was highly recognized and respected in Iowa, St. Louis employers had no idea what it was since my diploma did not say "Social Work" on it. I've always felt that Iowa State was ahead of its time with the program because when an individual has a problem, it's not just their problem - it impacts the whole family. So we treated the whole family. It makes so much sense.

At any rate, with an unknown degree and the distressed job market that existed in 1978, I found myself employed as a teller in a bank. While it was not the worst job in the world, it was a far cry from what I was trained to do. It was clear that an undergraduate degree alone was not going to allow me to work in the field of helping families. And so, at the ripe old age of 23, I enrolled in graduate school full time at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. But this time I picked the curriculum and I picked the college.

UMSL 2014

The program could be completed in 12 months, including a three month internship. What I didn't realize until I went to enroll in my courses was that the classes were at night to accommodate folks who were working full time. (This was way before the time where you could check everything out online.) That schedule would put a crimp into the time I would be able to spend with my fairly new husband as he was working full time during the days. But we decided that for a year, we could make it work. It may have been for the best as I drove to campus early every day to avoid the traffic, which gave me lots of time in the library before my classes began.

My electives provided me with an opportunity to take daytime classes, and I took business classes for  all of those. I believe my business minor contributed to the fact that I was hired by Ralston Purina for my internship in 1980. Those classes also paid off down the road when we started our own businesses.

My Master of Education Degree in Counseling was awarded following completion of the internship in August of 1980. I was the first person in my family to receive an advanced degree, and I graduated with a 3.9 GPA. This degree, unlike my bachelor's, opened the door to jobs that required a masters in order to even be considered. To date, that is my greatest academic achievement.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 19

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there - to the ones who are with us still as well as those who are no longer here to celebrate. My own father died in 2004, and I think about him often, but especially on his birthday and Father's Day. My writing prompt, of course, involves dads.

What is something you never understood or appreciated about your dad until much later in life?

Dad and me 1978
It takes becoming a parent yourself to appreciate most things about your own mom and dad. Once you recognize the great responsibility you have in caring for and raising children, you begin to understand the pressure your parents were under. My dad grew up during a time where it was considered the man's job to provide for his family. Consequently, my mom never worked once they got married except for the short stint when they owned the Dairy Queen.

They went through some difficult times when their oldest son was diagnosed with aplastic anemia as a young child. In addition to all the hospitalization bills, the serum the doctors believed necessary in order to keep Roy alive came at an exorbitant cost. The family incurred a lot of debt, and in the end Roy died at the age of 7. Before he was even buried the administrative nun from the Catholic hospital was already hounding dad for money. He and mom spent years paying the hospital off.

Dad began his working career in transportation, which took our family from Cincinnati to Chicago and finally to Des Moines. When his company was bought out, he lost his job as Regional Sales Manager. How devastating and scary that must have been for him. He tried many other things after that, always involving sales in some aspect. Looking back, I believe he was a bit of a frustrated entrepreneur, not unlike his own father.


He was so pleased and proud when Jim and I began our own composting business back in 1991. I think he lived a little vicariously through our business endeavors. It was so great to be able to talk about how things were going whenever we got together. Trying to juggle jobs and family responsibilities while facing the unknown future of the company we started helped me to understand how difficult things must have been for dad when he was supporting a young family.

But I like to think that I got my tenacity and spunk from him, and I know that he would be proud of the things I have accomplished in my life. (Except he wouldn't understand the part where I wrote a book about him - he would shake his head over that.)

Thanks for all the strength and knowledge you passed on to me, dad. Happy Father's Day!





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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 18

It's not Father's Day weekend, but this topic deserves more than one post as I have a couple of people I would like to write about. Today's writing prompt is:

Who are some other important father figures who have been influential in your life?

As anyone who has been in a relationship knows, when you get involved with someone you aren't just letting "that" person into your life. "That" person comes with a bunch of other people, whether family members, friends, co-workers or whatever. You may choose your significant other, but you don't get to choose the other folks.

Jim and I come from similar backgrounds, raised in Catholic families with comparable values. We both spent most of our childhood in Iowa, though he was from a small town and I lived in the "big city" of Des Moines - population ~ 200,000. We ultimately ended up at the same university and began dating when we were 19. I met his parents shortly after that when they came to Iowa State to see a play. We went out to dinner before the show and they immediately put me at ease. When they met my parents, they all hit it off as well - an added bonus. It's hard to believe that they have known me for 42 years - more than nearly anyone else except my spouse and my siblings!

Lorraine, Gerald, Catherine and Roy, 1979
As I got to know them better, I could see that the man who was to become my father-in-law was a very special person. He valued his family and all the men who worked for him, who were every bit family to him as well. Being raised in a household of 11 children - 8 of whom were girls - cemented the importance of family, I think. In the years that I have known him he has demonstrated time and time and again the utmost love and respect he has for his wife and his children. As the spouse of his only son, I am blessed to know his love as well, as are our children.

Andy, Gerald, Lorraine and Kathryn

Early on in our marriage I found a framed poem "To My Other Mother" that I purchased for my mother-in-law one year. A recent Google search revealed that they have exchanged the word Mother for Father and sell the same poem for father-in-laws now. I decided this would be a good time to write one of my own.

From the very first moment we met
you accepted the girl I was;
the woman I was to become.
Though not your daughter
you have embraced me as one.

We don’t share the same blood
though we share the same name.
But we don’t need genetics
to prove our relationship
because we know we are family.

Our paths have intertwined
for more than four decades.
The memories we have made
are tucked away securely in my mind. 
It’s been a treasured journey.

When it comes to the in-laws pool
I definitely won the lottery.
Some women don’t even have
one man in their lives they call dad.
I’ve been blessed with two.



Saturday, June 3, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 17

For this week's writing prompt, I chose a question involving spring. It is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that it is, indeed, spring as we have just returned from Australia and New Zealand where it is late fall. Nevertheless, here is this week's writing prompt.

What do you look forward to every spring? People, places, things, events, food, hobbies, traditions?

Each spring the thing I most anticipate is the whole process of getting my annuals into the planting beds and pots at our house. I keep a master list each year of what I planted and how the various flowers and herbs performed. Then I head off to the nursery to select the plant material. I like to patronize a nearby nursery as it is owned by a local family, and they have been very generous to our schools throughout the years. I know that I could buy the same things at one of the box stores for less money, but this is my way of supporting a hometown business. The employees are knowledgable too, and have helped me with many selections in the past.

It brings me great satisfaction to put each of the new little babies in the ground, and to watch them add color and interest to the yard. The herbs add flavor to our meals and beverages, and I like being able to walk out back and pick them fresh off the plant. As the season wears on, I do grow tired of going out into the heat to water them though. I am a mosquito magnet, and so I have to wear long sleeves and jeans to water, even during the day. That takes a bit of the romance out of the whole gardening thing, especially when the heat and humidity top 90.

Because we have been gone, I am way behind on my yard work. Hopefully things won't be too picked over by the time I finally get to the nursery.

spring flowers 2016



Monday, May 29, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 16

This post is a couple of days late as I have just returned from being out of the country. Considering that fact, I knew I would have to select the following topic for my writing prompt this week.

What was the longest continuous vacation of your life? How long were you gone? Do you remember how much it cost?

My husband and I left on April 24th to travel first to Australia and then to New Zealand. This trip had been in the making for several years, and at 30 days length was the longest time we have ever spent vacationing. It was also the first time in 38 plus years of marriage that we have spent 30 days, 24/7 together! It was a good trial period for retirement.

 The destinations were ones we had talked about traveling to, but the biggest consideration was that a professor my husband had at Iowa State had relocated to Melbourne back in 1981. He had been telling us for years that we needed to come and visit him and his family. None of us were getting any younger, so we decided to make the visit happen.

We spent two weeks in Australia, visiting Sydney, Cairns and Melbourne, where we met up with the Sinatra family for a few days. From there we traveled on to New Zealand, connecting up with Paul and Kathy who joined us for the last two weeks of our vacation. Kathy and I went to high school and later Iowa State together, and Paul and Jim were fraternity brothers at Iowa State.

As I have blogged extensively about the 30 day vacation over at my Kim Wolterman blog, I won't rehash the trip here. At the moment I don't have a tally on what the entire thing cost, but you know what? I don't care. It was the trip of a lifetime for us, and that makes it priceless in my book.

Blue Mountains, Australia

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 15

Today's writing prompt is one that is near and dear to my heart.

What do you love most about where you live now? What would you change about it?

My husband and I lived in two apartments and a duplex before purchasing our first home in 1982. In addition to being small, it was located on a busy street corner. Once we had our son, we began to outgrow the house so we looked for something larger on a quieter street. We saw many houses before walking into the one where we both looked at each other and said, "This is it!"

house in 1987
We were able to see beyond the ugly mint green paint color and the flamingo pink doors. We looked around the outdated kitchen and bathrooms, the horrendous wall paper that covered nearly every wall and some ceilings, and the worn blue carpet. The stacks of papers and clutter could not disguise the beautiful bones of this aging lady. The lot was huge and shaded and just waiting for a little boy to chase balls and fireflies again. Though the house sale was going through a trust in a closed bidding process, the tiny, elderly woman who had spent nearly 50 years raising her family in the home was going to make the final decision on who would next be the caretaker. We never knew if we had put in the highest bid or the lowest bid, but the realtor said that Hazel picked us because she wanted a family to again live in the house.

house as built in 1902
What I love most about the house is its history, which I researched extensively in order to obtain a century home plaque from our city. Though built in 1902, we are only the third owners. That is pretty incredible, when you think of it. The family who built the house lived here 36 years, and the next family 49 years. We are still the new kids on the block with 30 years under its roof. Unfortunately the people we purchased the home from sold off the southern half of the lot shortly after they purchased the property in 1938, which allowed a smaller house to be built next door. The early photograph above shows a stable on that part of the land. How lovely it would have been to keep the lot whole, with native plant material.

Nevertheless, this house welcomed our family with open arms and has embraced us throughout the years. Descendants of the other two owners have come to visit, and it has been fun to hear their stories about why certain things were done to the house. We have made our own modifications to suit the needs of our family, trying to maintain the original character. We no longer need this large of a house as our kids are grown and gone. And someday we won't want to climb all the stairs. Then someone else will have a chance to make their memories and leave their mark on this aging beauty.

April 2016

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 14

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, so of course I needed a writing prompt based on moms for today's post.

How would you describe your relationship with your mother - either now or in the past?

As mentioned in the last post, my mom and I were very close. That may be because I was the baby of the family, or maybe we were alike in personality and temperament. Whatever the reason, I loved spending time with her. She taught me how to sew, and tried teaching me to knit and crochet. The last two didn't catch on with me, however. She was an extremely talented bowler and golfer, and was quite an artist - more skills that did not pass on to me.

She made friends easily and had a wonderful sense of humor, which I think helped her survive a marriage that wasn't always smooth. My dad had a short temper, and being around him at times was like walking on eggshells. But mom was somehow able to laugh things off, usually.

My mom tried her best to attend my softball games in junior high, and my marching events and plays when I reached high school. She didn't always have a car, but when she did she was there for me. I brought her up to Iowa State for a mother's weekend that my dorm planned, and she had such a blast! She had never been able to attend college herself, so she was thrilled to get a little taste of it.

all my family in 1978
We enjoyed working together while planning my wedding, and she helped me modify a dress pattern so that I could make my own wedding dress. She crocheted all the lace for the dress, patterning it off the design on the veil she and I had scored on the clearance rack at Younkers for the bargain price of $7.50! That was 1/10 the price it was originally marked. She also made the dress for the junior bridesmaid and the vests for the two ring bearers.

Mom was the one who advised me not to rush into having kids. She told me we should enjoy each other as a couple, travel and get established in our jobs, because once the kids came along things would change. She and dad, like most people of their generation, immediately started their families once they got married. Maybe it was easy for her to say that because my older siblings had already supplied her with five grandchildren by the time we got married. 
Andy and mom 1985

When I had Andy, our first baby, she and dad drove over to help out, which was a godsend as I developed an all over rash post-delivery that necessitated a trip to the dermatology department of a research hospital, biopsies and a regimen of prednisone. They took care of the baby while I fought that weird postpartum skin disorder.

Andy was only four when mom died, and she never got to meet her namesake, Kathryn. I felt, and still feel, cheated. Cheated out of my time with her, and so incredibly sad that her grandchildren never got to know this vibrant, funny woman who gave me not only life and a sense of humor, but also my sense of who I am.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 13

What are some of the most momentous events in your life that have shaped you into the person you are today?

This is a very thought-provoking question, isn't it? The first thing that comes to mind is going away to college, since this definitely led to the second big event in my life. Even though I was the baby of the family, I think that I was fairly independent as a teenager. But college life certainly put me in a position to have to make my own decisions, budget my finances, and do my own cleaning and laundry all while juggling classes and a job. It was really the first step toward leaving home.

As I have written about previously, I met my husband at college. Getting married certainly qualifies as a momentous event. The reality sets in that you are leaving your mom and dad, and the relationship with them will never be quite the same. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, but it is certainly different. Instead of seeking their advice and council, you now turn to your spouse. Going from being a party of one to a party of two takes some adjustment and compromise. I'm not sure anything prepares you properly for the whole marriage deal.

Mom and me 1978
Without a doubt the thing that impacted me the most (so far) in my life was losing my mom when I was only 33. My mother and I had an incredibly close relationship. We rarely fought, even through the teenage angst years. Like most young people caught up in the day to day issues of work and parenting, I took having my mom in my life for granted. I thought we had years to enjoy each other's company. That all changed in the blink of an eye.

At that point I realized that so much of what we worry about, complain about, and get worked up about is inconsequential in the big scheme of things. Life is, indeed, very short. I have really tried to live in the moment, and not let little things bother me. I'm not always successful, but I think I am a happier person because of this philosophy.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 12

The writing prompt for this week involves hobbies.

Do you like to dabble in lots of different hobbies? Is so, what are they? Or do you have one primary pastime that takes up most of your free hours and energy?

Kodak Instamatic
Hobbies are very much a part of my life. Some of them, such as needlework, carry over from when I was younger, but others I became interested in as I got older. Taking photos is something I've done since my sister gave me a Kodak Instamatic camera when I was in grade school. I progressed to a 35 mm film camera in college, and now work exclusively with digital cameras. I joined a female photography group, and have met some exceptional women and enjoy participating in the group photography shows. I am super excited and proud that my photos will be appearing in an upcoming print and ebook on reducing stress!

Michael and Anna Cramer
My interest in genealogy started when my mom died unexpectedly in 1989 at the age of 69. At that point I realized that if I wanted to capture the stories and memories of the older generations in my family, I better get started. Since that beginning in 1989 I have taken many genealogy research trips, spent hours digging through online files, connected with relatives that I didn't even know I had, and submitted my saliva for DNA analysis. I also enjoy doing research for other people, and am currently looking into the family of a man who was supposedly possessed by the devil. I'm pretty happy that his name is not in my family tree. Pictured here are my second great-grandparents on my dad's side.

50th Anniversary quilt
I began making quilts back in 2002 when I got the crazy idea to make my mother and father-in-law a quilt for their 50th wedding anniversary. No pressure! I had important photographs and documents reprinted onto fabric, and then used some quilt squares that my mother-in-law's mother had made and incorporated those into the quilt. I hand embroidered dates and their names onto the border. Since that first quilt, I have made close to 30 quilts. While quilting strains my mathematically challenged brain, it also brings out my creative side in ways I didn't know I possessed.

pickleball shirt
My latest hobby fortunately combines fitness as well as fun. Two years ago I was introduced to pickleball, a court game that includes elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong. The ball resembles a whiffle ball, and the paddle is like an oversized ping pong paddle. It is touted as the fastest growing sport in America, and it's not just for old people anymore. A lot of younger players have discovered how fast and strategic the game can be. I try to play 3 times a week, and for me getting to socialize with people is just as important as the workout since I have my office in my house.

The best part about all of my hobbies is that each one of them is something that I can continue to do the rest of my life, assuming my health and eyesight remain good.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 11

My husband and I are preparing for an epic travel adventure, so this particular writing prompt struck a cord with me.

If you could make a good living doing the one thing you love most in the world, what would it be?

Mazatlan
Because I love to travel and often photograph and write about my experiences, I would absolutely love to be a travel blogger. I know a number of people who do actually make a living doing exactly that. How great would it be to have someone else pay for your travel expenses in return for providing photos and reviews of the places you have been?

I already am a top reviewer for TripAdvisor as I use that site extensively whenever I am planning a trip, whether in my own town or abroad. So I have always felt it was important for me to contribute reviews as well to help other travelers. But I don't get paid for that, of course, and that is what makes the site so valuable. The reviews are honest opinions from people who visited, stayed or ate at the places listed on the site.

But if an opportunity came along for me to have my expenses paid in exchange for blogging about where I've been and what I did there, I would jump at the chance!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 10

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and I will be hosting 13 or 14 of my extended family members for dinner. It seem apropos, then, to use a writing prompt that deals with holiday traditions.

Which of your holiday traditions have you carried on into adulthood? What new traditions have you started?

When I was a child, Easter was a big deal. It was almost as if Santa was visiting for a second time, coming dressed in a white, fluffy suit with big ears and a pom pom tail. My mom and dad had a good time with Easter, carefully filling our baskets with all our favorite candies and green, plastic grass. Then they would hide the baskets, and my brother and I would feverishly dash through the house trying to determine where that wily rabbit had hidden our goodies.

Easter ~1958
The bunny always left a brown, wooden bowl filled with dyed eggs and candy on the kitchen table for the "adults" in the house. There was quite an age difference between my older brother and sister and us younger two siblings, so perhaps that was the bunny's way of making sure the older two didn't feel left out. Or maybe mom and dad just wanted to make sure they got some candy, too.

After breakfast we would don our Sunday best and head off to Mass. The photo above is of our family before Easter Mass in Chicago, circa 1958. I'm in the front with my brother Joe on my right. In the back row is my sister Kathy, my mom, and my brother Ken. Dad was usually the one taking the pictures, so he isn't in this shot. I'm the only one who looks happy. Maybe my Easter basket was the biggest that year!

When my husband and I started our family we continued on with the Easter basket tradition, hiding the baskets from the kids just as my parents had done. And there was a bowl of candy on the table for the adults. But we added a new tradition by hiding dyed eggs outside. One of us would slyly sneak out with the eggs while the other got the children ready for Mass. When we got home from church, we would send them out to look in the yard. They loved it! But one year there were hardly any eggs left in the yard. We could not figure out where they had all gone. But just as we were scratching our heads over it, a big black crow swooped down from the sky, grabbed a colored egg, and took off. Those devils!

The next year I purchased a couple bags of colored plastic eggs, and we filled those with candy and hid them outside. Problem solved, and I think the kids enjoyed the candy-filled eggs way more than they ever did the hard-boiled, dyed eggs.

The picture below is Easter 1993. The kids found their baskets, we dressed up for Mass, and then they went on their egg hunt when we got home. And once again the dad was taking the picture, so he isn't in it. Though the days of Easter egg hunts are long gone, it's so nice to be reminded of the fun times we had when the kids were young.

Easter 1993

Friday, April 7, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 9

This week the challenge question involves leaving home for the first time.

When you first left your parents’ home, was it to attend college, pursue a job, or embark on military or humanitarian service? What was it like to be out on your own for the first time?

My first time leaving home was to attend college. I had never been away from my family before other than a few overnight stays with friends, a couple of weekend girl scout camps and a class trip in high school to Washington, DC. On any other longer trips I was always with at least one of my family members. As the baby of the family, I was very close to my parents and siblings, but college held a world of new opportunities in my eyes. Though I did not get to attend the college of my choice (my dad's decision, and the topic of a future post), I was happy that a number of my fellow Hoover Husky high school classmates would also be going to Iowa State.

A good friend and I applied to be roommates, but the lottery used back then did not allow that to happen. She was at one end of the campus, and I at another. She and I packed up my car with our belonging the summer before freshman year and headed to campus together. Neither one of us knew our respective roommates. The picture below shows me with some of my fellow dormies. I am in the center of the front row, and my freshman roommate is right behind me.

Iowa State 1974 
It was difficult for me at first, and I made many weekend trips home that first quarter to see my parents. I missed them terribly, despite the fact that my older brother was currently a junior at the same university. Eventually I began to make new friends, and saw some of my old high school acquaintances around campus. One of them invited me to attend a rush party for Little Sisters that was taking place at his fraternity. Being selected to be part of this Little Sisters group at Alpha Sigma Phi was a turning point for me at Iowa State. I found a whole new set of friends, both male and female, and an entirely different way to become involved with the university.

The first three years of college I lived in a dormitory, but senior year I moved off campus into a mobile home with one of the other Little Sisters. That was a great experience in preparing me for independent living, with rent and utility bills to pay as well as groceries to purchase and cook. No more meal plan in the dorm!

Renting the mobile home and sharing a small space with another adult also prepared me to become a wife, I believe. And as one of the fraternity brothers married this Little Sister thirty-eight years ago, I'd say being out on my own for the first time worked out pretty well!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 8

My husband and I met with an attorney this week to create a new will since our last one was done in 1987. While that document is certainly sufficient in most respects, I doubt that anyone would be able to easily find the executor. He was a trusted friend of ours at the time, but moved to Texas a couple decades ago. I have no idea where he is at now, or if he's even alive as we lost touch a long time ago. Since death is on my mind, it seems appropriate for this week's story to relate to it on some level.

Do you know where you’d like to be laid to rest one day? Will you be buried near relatives and ancestors, or in the place you lived most of your life (if the two are different)?

gravestone
Being laid to rest - isn't that an interesting turn of phrase? Since you are dead, you aren't really resting. At any rate, my husband and I have talked extensively about this. My parents are buried in a cemetery 350 miles away from where we live. His parents have their funerals planned and their cemetery plots paid for up in Minnesota. We never considered being buried in either of those locations. To me the point of having a gravestone is for those you leave behind, to visit, grieve and pay their respects. I think it made a lot of sense when families lived and died in the communities in which they had been born. Our children live far away, and we don't even know where we will end up living following retirement, so it makes no sense to pre-pay funeral or burial expenses in our city.

The other consideration for us is that we have worked in the "green" industry for over 20 years, so we are very sensitive to sustainability. Cemeteries are not necessarily the best use of land, though the owners are paying more attention to environmental issues these days. Cremation and green burials come to mind, and certainly cremation is the route we will both choose to go. We just haven't come to any decision about what will be done with our cremains. Maybe keeping them in an urn makes the most sense because then they will be portable. For now, it is enough to know that we both wish to be cremated.

While the environmentalist in me knows that cremation without a burial plot is the right thing to do, the genealogist in me cringes a bit. Burial records and tombstones are sometimes the only proof you can find that an ancestor lived and died. What is the replacement when someone is cremated? Will the funeral homes share these records as they often share burial records? It is something that gives me pause, for sure. It won't prevent me from being cremated, but my inner genealogist will shed a little tear.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 7

This week's question again involves education.
Describe your family legacy regarding education. Do you come from a long line of scholars? Were you the first to earn a degree? Are your forging a new legacy with your own children?

The first question made me chuckle. I definitely do not come from a long line of scholars. My mom dropped out of high school following her junior year to go to work to help support her family, which consisted of her mom and dad as well as seven siblings. She sewed basketballs for a sporting goods company. My father took several college classes somewhere along the line (I believe after his service in WWII), but he was far from ever completing a college degree.

My older sister never went to college, and my oldest brother attended for a couple of years before entering the Navy during the Vietnam War. The brother closest in age to me did attend a university, getting a bachelor's degree and earning credits for most of a master's degree. I followed him to the same university, and completed my bachelor's degree in four years.

college graduation
My husband and I met in college, and married shortly after graduation. Finding no jobs in my field and tiring of working in a bank, I went back for my master's degree. I achieved it in one year by going to school full-time, 12 months straight, and graduated magna cum laude. I was the first in my family to obtain a master's degree, and my husband later got an MBA.

Both of our children have four year degrees, and our daughter-in-law has a master's degree as well. Our daughter is studying for the GMAT right now as she is interested in getting an MBA. So perhaps we have forged a new legacy with the next generation.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 6

This week's question is:
In childhood, did you share a bedroom with siblings or have a room to yourself? What kinds of things did you collect and display in your own little corner of the world?

From the time that I was born I shared sleeping quarters with my older sister, with my two older brothers also rooming together. When I was first born I slept in a dresser drawer as my brother Joe, who was only 16 months old at the time, occupied the baby bed. We moved to Chicago when I was only a few months old, and I shared a couch with my sister until my dad was able to refinish the upstairs of our new house into two bedrooms. By then, Joe was old enough for a bed and I got the crib.

Des Moines house
At the age of 5 we moved to Des Moines, and my sister and I had a double bed in the middle bedroom of the three bedroom ranch-style home. There was little room to have a collection of any kind. I loved books, but weekly trips to the library satisfied my need to read, and there wasn't extra money to spend purchasing books at any rate.

My sister got married and moved to Florida when I was 13, so I finally had a room to myself. At that point, I built myself a desk out of a sheet of plywood and two peach crates. I painted the wood, covered the crates with contact paper, and then made some curtains to hang on the front of the crates. It was in the peach crates that I began to store my growing record collection.

My first job at 12 or so was baby-sitting in my neighborhood, and with the money I earned I would buy 45's or albums if most of the songs appealed to me. My parents gave me a record player one year for Christmas, and I was able to listen to music in my room without my dad complaining about what I was playing. I used to tease him in later years that the music he complained about - the Carpenters, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, the Bee Gees - were now the artists he was listening to in elevators. Ha!

In retrospect, I really didn't mind sharing a room with my sister, and I missed her desperately when she moved away. I'm positive that I had a better college experience with roommates because I had been used to sharing space most of my life. It helps in marriage, too!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 5

As I mentioned earlier, I skipped the 52 Stories project in February as I was writing every day for the Family History Writing Challenge. As that extended a bit into March, I am just now getting back to 52 Stories.  Maybe I should rename mine the 47 Stories - ha!

This story concerns vacations:
What was the biggest, most exotic vacation you took with your family when you were a child? What memories stand out?

First of all, our family was not wealthy. I'm not even sure if we would have been considered lower middle class. My dad and mom struggled for years to pay off the expenses incurred when their first-born child, Roy, was born prematurely in 1942. Dad told me that before my mom was even released from the Catholic hospital, the nuns were already hounding him about how he was going to pay the bills. They arranged a monthly payment plan that took him years to pay off. The bills escalated when Roy was diagnosed at the age of 3 with aplastic anemia. While that took his life at the age of 7, dad continued to make payments on all the medical bills long after Roy was gone.

Vacations were a luxury our family could ill afford. We made trips from our home in Chicago and later Des Moines back to Cincinnati to visit relatives, and once in a while visited a nearby lake for a week's relaxation. So it was a complete surprise when my dad announced that we were taking a vacation to the Smoky Mountains in the fall of 1965, made even more surreal by the fact that they were pulling my brother Joe and me out of elementary school for a week. That was simply not done, and yet we did it.

Dad's Dairy Queen
Looking back on it, the trip was made possible because my dad had purchased a Dairy Queen in late 1964 or early 1965. This was during the time period that Dairy Queen pretty much only served ice cream treats. They did not have grills and fryers like they do today, but my dad offered loose meat sandwiches for sale. The whole family was put to work, with the older siblings working out front and Joe and me chopping onions and folding boxes in the back. Unfortunately that spring and summer were unusually cool and rainy in Des Moines, and people did not buy ice cream as expected. If it were not for the local business workers coming over to buy sandwiches, the Dairy Queen would not have survived the summer. By the fall, dad had enough and sold the business, thus the reason he had the time and resources to take his family on a trip.

View Master
We were not on the road very long before we came to the realization that all the fishing equipment had been left behind, as well as dad's camera! How were we going to document this trip? The thought of being on vacation and not having a camera nearly brings me to tears when I think of it. My camera is such a part of who I am, and my pictures help me to chronicle my journeys. Our fall back position was purchasing post cards and a View Master, which I still have packed away somewhere. While I would love to be able to open up one of mom's photo albums and see our trip outlined in chronological order, at least these other souvenirs help jog my memory about where we traveled. But how sad not to have any family photos from the trip.

My brother remembers traveling as far as Indiana and spending the night in a motel. He said the next day we stopped in Cincinnati for a quick visit before continuing on our way. The drive would have taken us through Kentucky, Tennessee and perhaps North Carolina. All of my recollections involve the area near Chattanooga, Tennessee. I remember walking the Swing-A-Long Bridge and being frightened when my dad made it swing as this suspension bridge spans 180 feet. At Lookout Mountain we walked to Lover's Leap and could see 7 states. And I vividly remember the Fairyland Caverns, where scenes from different fairy tales that were created by Atlanta sculptor Jessie Sanders could be viewed.

As I don't have the best recall in the world, I think the reason that this trip stands out so much for me, besides the fact that I got to miss a week of school, is that it was the first time just the four of us traveled, leaving my two older siblings at home as they were out of high school by then. Add on the fact that we actually went somewhere besides seeing family, and it made a lasting impression on me.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Küblers to America

Büsserach, Switzerland
Thus ends the chronicle of my branch of the Kübler family from Büsserach, Switzerland to America. I've traveled to Büsserach and walked the villages, inhaled the mountain air and seen the beautiful  countryside through my own eyes. I've met some of the descendants of Vinzenz Joseph Kübler's siblings and other extended family. I even slept in the building where Vinzenz made the exchange of money for his land so that he could come to America with his family. Despite all that, I cannot conceive of what it must have felt like to take a last look at everyone and everything you have ever known and loved and say a final good-bye. How tough was his life that he would risk everything to take an arduous one way trip on a sailing vessel with his young family to an unknown country and an unknown future?

I never had the opportunity to know him, of course, as this was long before I was born. I barely knew my grandfather, Joseph Kubler. Although I was 13 when he died, traveling from Des Moines to Cincinnati in the 1960s was not an easy trip due to the lack of interstates. Busy, two-lane highways meant the drive was long and often slow, so visits back "home" were limited to once a year at best. Our family always stayed with my mom's parents, never at the Kubler house. We would go over to see Grandma and Grandpa Kubler when we were in town, however. They were nice to me, but I could sense the closer relationship that the cousins who lived in Cincinnati had with them. I always felt a bit like an outsider.

My memories of Grandma Kubler are much clearer, as I was 23 when she passed. She was kind and friendly, and a great cook. It was always a treat to be able to have a meal with her. It seemed like she was always in the kitchen when we visited. I'm grateful for her cooking skills as she passed them along to my dad. Though my mom was always the cook in our family during the week, on the weekends my dad nearly always helped out in the kitchen. Once he retired, cooking and cleaning were activities he shared with my mom.

Like most young people, I never sat down with my grandparents to get their stories. By the time I got interested in genealogy, following the death of my mother, all my grandparents were gone. I have tried to make up for that by talking with my older relatives each time I go to Cincinnati for a visit, and by participating in the Family History Writing Challenge so that I get the information placed somewhere besides my genealogy software. I have a long way to go, but at least I am taking steps to get there.

Dad and me circa 1958
I forgot to include in the last post the poem I wrote for my dad when he died, so it appears below. This is a scan of the original I placed beside his casket in the funeral home, somewhat wavy from the tears and snowstorm it was carried through. I have written poetry since early childhood, but I don't share it very often. I wrote a poem for Aunt Marie (my mother's sister) for her funeral, and another for my sister-in-law Lynn to express my feelings and hopefully console my brother, Joseph. So it seemed fitting to put my thoughts on paper for my dad. He was not always an easy man to be around, but I never doubted his love for me. It's an odd feeling when your second parent dies, as if you are now an orphan. The two people who were responsible for your very existence, and the anchor for your entire family are no longer a phone call or relatively short drive away. Pieces of my heart were buried with each one of them, but I am extremely happy that I have the photographs and memories to tuck away in those empty spaces.

Dad's Poem


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Family History Writing Challenge Day 29

Note: Technically the writing challenge was for 28 days, but I haven't finished the story yet so I will be continuing. It seemed simplest to keep the same name for this blog post.

After three weeks in the hospital following his car accident, Roy was ready to be released. Numerous options were discussed for how to transport him, and where he should be taken to recuperate. In the end, Kimberly and James rented an RV in St. Louis and drove it to Hays. That way Roy would be able to lie flat on the bed to protect his broken bones. When they arrived to pick Roy up, they found his room filled with a dozen people who wanted to tell their patient good-bye and wish him well. Some homemade cookies and other treats were sent along with him as well.

Roy spent a month at the Wolterman's home, with Kimberly coming home every day at noon to make him lunch. Her boss, Dr. Richard Bradley, stopped by the house to check on Roy and made a referral for an orthopedist for follow-up X-rays. Roy's strength eventually came back, and he began to put back on some of the 40 pounds he had lost in the hospital. He was soon doing laps inside the house in an effort to get stronger, and worked up to walking 2 miles per day. In good weather Kimberly would take him to the high school track to walk for longer periods on a level surface.

He received over 100 get well and sympathy cards while he was in St. Louis. He talked a lot about the accident, and as expected blamed himself for Catherine's death. He carried a lot of guilt with him the rest of his life. His grandson Andrew was a source of joy and distraction for him. Every day when Andrew came home from preschool he would ask his grandpa how he was feeling. They spent a lot of time watching t.v. together.

When Roy was finally able to travel, Kimberly, Andrew and Chris Lane drove him back to Cincinnati, and they stayed with him for the first week. Kathleen then came to Cincinnati for the second week, and Joseph for the third week. By then, Roy felt he was well enough to be on his own.

Ultimately he returned to his volunteer activities and directing the senior chorale group. He joined a fitness center, and every Monday-Friday he and his life-long friend Max Schoener would work out for an hour. He lived a full and active life, with his children coming to town to visit when they could, particularly when he planned family reunions. The children surprised him with a party on his 80th birthday, and he was thrilled!
Roy with his children; with his grandchildren; and his great-grandchildren

During a routing eye exam in 2000, Roy's ophthalmologist noticed something in his eyes that didn't seem right. He told Roy that the whites of his eyes were somewhat yellow, and that he should go to his primary care doctor and have it checked out. Roy did, and before he knew it he was having a bone marrow biopsy done. The results were not good. Roy had multiple myeloma, a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. Plasma cells are mostly found in the bone marrow. Virtually incurable, the prognosis is 3-5 years life expectancy. Roy, in typical form, told the doctor, "At my age if I get 3-5 more years I'll be doing good."

Side effects of the disease are low blood counts, anemia, fatigue and the inability to fight infection. It is interesting that all of these things also affected his son LeRoy once he contracted aplastic anemia. Roy was told that most likely it would not be the myeloma that would kills him but rather an infection. He was warned to keep away from crowds where the likelihood of contracting germs would be greater. Unfortunately, that meant he had to stop doing all the things he loved outside the home. His life became a series of doctors' visits, trips to receive transfusions, and short jaunts to the grocery store.

For the first year of his disease he lived on his own, and then his daughter Kathleen moved in with him for a couple of years. He spent the last 10 months alone by his choice, with hospice coming to the house in December of 2003. Kimberly had driven over to meet with the hospice coordinator, and also a real estate agent so that Roy could discuss putting his house on the market. It was decided to list the house once Roy passed.

Roy Kubler
By the end of that month he entered an in-patient hospice floor at a local hospital. That is where he remained until he died on 21 January 2004. He was 86 years old, and had lived 4 years with the multiple myeloma. The day of his funeral, January 25th, began with rain which turned to sleet and finally snow. Many friends and family were not able to attend the funeral due to the weather. Catherine's sister Margie arrived via snowplow! The snow did not, however, prevent the Air Force from honoring their commitment to provide Roy with the Military Funeral Honors to which he was entitled as a veteran. The honor guard had to drive 50 miles from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton to Cincinnati in the dreadful weather. It was a moving ceremony, and fitting for a man who was proud of his service to his country.

And when it was all over, Roy was once again able to lie beside his beloved Catherine.





Saturday, March 4, 2017

Family History Writing Challenge Day 28

Kubler's Dairy Queen
Roy continued to work for the trucking company in Des Moines for about a decade, but his constant travel and entertainment commitments took their toll on the family. Eventually he quit and tried other pursuits, including selling record-a-phones (early answering machines for businesses), Airstream Motorhomes (until his business partner took off with the model they had purchased and left Roy with the payments on it), and owning a Dairy Queen for a brief period. He then settled into selling commercial real estate for a few years, and his last position of employment was as the manager of a store selling parts and supplies for motorhomes and campers.

Oldest daughter Kathleen married Joseph Lane in 1968. They have three children: Julie, Joseph and Christopher. Julie married Ralph Maness in 1991, and they have two daughters: Molly and Cordelia. Joseph married Susan Sheets, and Christopher is unmarried.

Kenneth married Virginia Staley in 1969, and their children are Todd and Sara. Virginia died of complications from an aneurysm in 2015. Sara married Jonathan Wendt in 2006, and their children are Leo, Owen and Hazel.

Kimberly married James Wolterman in 1978. They have two children: Andrew and Kathryn. Andrew married Megan Englert in 2008.

Joseph married Lynn Graber in 1990 and their children are David, Stephanie and Rebecca. Lynn died of pancreatic cancer in 2002. Joseph remarried in 2010. David passed in 2013. Stephanie has two children: Arabella and Killian.

Kubler home in Cincinnati
Roy retired in 1984, and he and Catherine sold their house in Des Moines and moved back to their hometown of Cincinnati. They immediately began reconnecting with relatives and friends, and became extremely active in the local senior citizens center. They both enjoyed the card games and dances, Catherine loved the crafts room, and Roy became the director of the chorale group, which Catherine also participated in.

In the summer of 1989, they traveled out to Colorado to visit their son, Joseph. They stopped in St. Louis and stayed a couple of days with Kimberly and James, and also got to see Kathleen and her family as they lived in the area as well. They spent a couple of weeks enjoying the scenery in Colorado and were on their way home on July 18th. In the middle of Kansas on Interstate 70, Roy fell asleep at the wheel of the car. They had stopped for a potty break in the afternoon, and neither one of them put their seat belt back on when they reentered the car. Driving off onto the shoulder of the road, Roy awoke and over-corrected his steering. The car went off the road, flipping a couple of times. Catherine was killed instantly, and Roy was severely injured. The car behind them happened to contain a couple of off-duty paramedics, who immediately stopped to offer assistance and dialed 9-1-1. Roy was able to give them Joseph's phone number from memory, and he is the one who received the first call about the accident.

Roy was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Hays, Kansas. He suffered from a broken collar bone, all the ribs on one side were fractured, and he had internal bleeding. Joseph, in the meantime, faced the unpleasant task of notifying his siblings. He left a message on the answering machine at Kenneth's house and called Kathleen at work. She told him that she would call Kimberly at home that night after she knew her sister was done with work and had picked up her son Andrew at his baby-sitter's home. Kathleen was so distraught that someone drove her home from the office.

Joseph then had a friend drive with him from Colorado Springs to Hays, and Kathleen and Kimberly drove there together from St. Louis the next morning. Once they assessed their dad's situation and realized he would be in the hospital for quite a while, it was determined that Kathleen would fly to Cincinnati to begin making funeral arrangements for Catherine. In the meantime Kathleen's husband Joe would drive to Kansas and stay with Roy while everyone else made their way to Cincinnati for the funeral.

Catherine's obituary
Catherine's body was shipped by train to Cincinnati. It was very difficult for the children to plan their mother's funeral, especially knowing that their dad would not be able to attend it. They also did not know all of his wishes for the funeral, though he and Catherine had purchased a burial plan so that helped with some of the decision-making. The funeral was well attended by family and friends as Catherine was well-loved in the community. Men from the senior chorale group, dressed in their performance best, escorted the casket into the church while singing, "When Irish Eyes are Smiling." There was not a dry eye in St. Dominic's Church.

One thing that Roy made clear from his hospital bed was that he did not want anything personal of Catherine's to be in the house when he returned home to Cincinnati. He told Kathleen and Kimberly to pack everything up and have a yard sale in St. Louis. It was a very difficult thing to ask of two grieving daughters, but they reluctantly complied with his wishes, bringing Catherine's personal belongings back home with them after the funeral.

The beloved matriarch was dead at the age of 69. The foundation of the family shifted, and the children were numb.



Friday, March 3, 2017

Family History Writing Challenge Day 27

Catherine with Joseph
and Kimberly
Following Kenneth's birth, Catherine experienced a couple of miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy, resulting in the removal of one ovary and all but a piece of her second ovary. The doctor told her that she had a chance in a million of ever conceiving again, and a chance in 10,000 that a baby would be carried full term. When she started feeling ill in 1953, the doctor ran a pregnancy test even though he was sure she could not be expecting. At the time, the test involved injecting the urine of a woman into a female rabbit. If the woman was pregnant, the chorionic gonadotrophin in the urine would cause the rabbit's ovaries to enlarge and develop characteristic surface changes. Unfortunately, the only way to read the test results was to cut open the bunny. This is where the expression, "The rabbit died" comes from. Son Joseph joined the family in 1954. In 1955, she advised the doctor not to kill the bunny because she knew she was pregnant. Kimberly (that's me) was born later that year. Catherine definitely defied the odds, not once but twice!

Roy's household was expanding during a time period when the Railway Express Agency was contracting. Following the war a flurry of construction on highways and the widespread purchase of automobiles resulted in a downturn of passengers traveling by the rails. The railroads began sharp reductions in the number of passenger trains, which cut back on the reach of Railway Express Agency. It was perhaps this turn of events that caused Roy to seek employment elsewhere. He ultimately took a job with a trucking company in Chicago, Illinois at about the time Kimberly was born. He went ahead to find a house for the family and get established. A few months later, Catherine boarded a train in Cincinnati and took the four children to Chicago. How hard it must have been for her to leave her friends and family - her whole support group - behind.

Catherine's mother Mayme
Crusham comes to visit in
Chicago for Easter 
The house purchased was in a new subdivision by O'Hare Airport. The airport had just officially opened to commercial air travel in 1955, and their new next-door neighbor worked in the control tower at O'Hare. The second story of the home was unfinished, so all 6 members of the family slept on the main floor until Roy could add two bedrooms upstairs. Chicago was close enough to Cincinnati that both Roy and Catherine's parents could come over for a visit.

By 1960 Roy took a position with a different trucking company in Des Moines, Iowa. The family was on the move again. This time Roy and Catherine purchased a 3 bedroom, 1 bath home located on the north side of Des Moines. The walkout basement afforded extra living space for the family, and the dead end street was a safe haven for growing children. Cornfields surrounded the area, giving a feel of country living in the city. Nearby Woodlawn Park was easy walking distance, and offered play equipment, a baseball field that converted to an ice skating rink in the winter, a wading pool and a park shelter with games and activities throughout the summer.
Des Moines house with neighbor
girl and Kubler dog, Duke
Holy Trinity Church and School
The three older children were enrolled in various Catholic schools, and Kimberly attended kindergarten in the Johnston School District as Holy Trinity did not offer this grade. Roy and Catherine found a bowling league to join, and resumed their golf games. The family members settled nicely into their new lives in Des Moines.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Family History Writing Challenge Day 26

Catherine with her arm around LeRoy,
her nephew Danny Wambaugh
and Kathleen in the chair
While Roy was away serving his country, Catherine did the best she could at their home in Cincinnati. Unable to work due to the presence of two small children, she survived on the small allowance Roy was able to send her from his military pay. Perhaps she had some assistance from her family next door as well. She kept her spirits up by writing to Roy and letting him know how she and the children were doing. She eagerly awaited his replies, and kept those letters until the day she died.

Cincinnati, like all of America, had done its part to aid in the war effort, buying war bonds, accepting rationing, and creating jobs to help build or make the supplies needed for the soldiers. So it was no surprise that when President Harry S. Truman announced the end of the war on 14 August 1945, a crowd of 15,000 gathered at Fountain Square downtown, blowing horns, singing and shouting under a shower of paper graffiti tossed from office windows above. Thousands attended services at churches and synagogues.

But under all the relief and gaiety was a nagging concern about the economy. Many of the jobs created during the war were as a result of government contracts, which were cancelled when the war ended. Industrial employment in Hamilton County had nearly doubled during the war years, including women who entered the job force as well as men who had relocated to the area because of defense-related job opportunities. What would happen to all these employees? Would the returning 12,000-15,000 local veterans be able to find employment?

Many of the manufacturing plants went back to their original pre-war product lines once their government contracts ended. Returning servicemen were offered their old jobs, and many women were displaced from the job force. A new automobile plant built by General Motors in Hamilton County following the end of the war also offered employment opportunities to veterans and other men in the community.

Roy was lucky to be able to return to his job at the Railway Express Agency, a company that had boomed during WWII. He was happy to go back to a more normal life with work, his family and worshiping at Resurrection of Our Lord Catholic Church in Price Hill. The original church was built in  1919, and a school was added in 1920. By 1952, the growth in attendance by parishioners necessitated that a new church be constructed. The new building was completed in 1954.

Shortly after Roy's return from the war, the family was dealt an incredible blow. LeRoy was diagnosed at the age of 3 with aplastic anemia, a rare, serious blood disorder caused by failure of the bone marrow to produce blood cells. Symptoms of the disease are anemia, bleeding and infection. Some cases have been linked to exposure to toxic environmental chemicals such as benzene, a colorless and highly flammable liquid. It is used as a starter material for other products, including rubber. Because Catherine worked in a factory sewing rubber basketballs before and during her pregnancy with LeRoy, it begs the question - did exposure to benzene cause him to be born prematurely, and then later contract aplastic anemia? While there were studies done to examine the impact of benzene in the workplace, there were none conducted at that time to examine the impact on a fetus. Maybe it's just as well, as Catherine would have been devastated to find that something she had done caused her little boy to be sick. She was most likely pregnant with her third child, Kenneth, when they found out about LeRoy's illness.

There was no cure for aplastic anemia in the 1940s. Patients were being injected with horse serum - antithymic globulin. Side affects included fatigue and serum sickness, with fever and edema. The cost of the injections was exorbitant, and the family could not afford the treatment. The drug manufacturer agreed to cover the expense if the Kubler's would allow LeRoy to participate in a study. Roy and Catherine willingly agreed, eager to do anything to save their boy.

Ken in arms of Catherine's
brother Charlie, LeRoy and
Kathleen circa 1949
LeRoy was able to go to school off and on when he felt up to it, but he hated the fact that the nuns at Resurrection School always made him sit by the radiator in the classroom. He was extremely susceptible to infection with the disease. In his 7th year he developed pneumonia. On the morning of 31 January 1950, Roy went into his son's bedroom to check on him before going to work. LeRoy asked for a drink of water, and by the time Roy came back with the glass, LeRoy had died.

Because of the rareness of his disease, the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote a story about his death. From that story, many people wrote letters to Roy and Catherine. Most of them were expressing condolences, but some were filled with hate, claiming that they must be really bad people of God had chosen to take their first-born son away from them. There were some letters that Roy never let Catherine see because they were so terrible. As if the loss of their son wasn't enough, the couple had to deal with the judgmental words of others. Kathleen was barely 6 and Kenneth 4 when their brother died. It must have been horrific for the family to endure.
newspaper article
about LeRoy's death