A quick flip through one of our life history books
(shared with client permission)
We worked for $200 a month and thought we were rich—of course, they did give us the house with furniture and electricity. I mean, that was really an improvement over Arlee. We thought we were in hog heaven there for a while. I actually bought some new shoes and some other stuff.
I was pregnant with Linda when we were there working for Henry Smith. I had morning sickness pretty bad, and I would complain sometimes about the morning sickness.
Don kept telling me that it was all in my head, that the cows and the horses and the pigs, they didn't have morning sickness and my whining and everything. So I told him, “I wish once, just once, that a man knew what it felt like to have morning sickness.”
One day, he woke up and he was sick to the stomach with the flu, and he said, “It's all your fault! You gave this to me!”
“What do you mean?”
He says, “I've got morning sickness!”
Later on, when it was time for the baby to be born, I was doing the thing that I do the best: I was worrying and anticipating, talking about having the labor and stuff. He brings in all his farm animals, saying how they give birth to their calves and their horses and all that pretty easily, until I got kind of perturbed about it. He was giving me a bad time. I said, “I wish once, just once, that a man knew what it felt like …”
And he says in a small voice, “Please don't, honey.”
He finally figured out that it was not a lot of fun. In those days, they didn't have classes to teach you how to breathe or anything. They didn't have any lessons; you just went to the doctor and they would check you and send you home. You didn't know what to expect or anything. Anyhow, he didn't give me a bad time about it anymore.
I wish once, just once, that a man knew what it felt like ...
In 1945, Auschwitz and Buna were evacuated. The only ones who remained behind were the old or sick prisoners—anyone who couldn’t walk. The rest of us were put in cattle cars and taken away.
We were in those cattle cars for about five or six weeks. I learned later that because the army had the right to the railways, any time they had to move an army train, they would put us on a side line and take the army through because they needed the soldiers up front to fight the war. We were let out for a minute to make in the sand, on the ground, anywhere, and they would have a big barrel of water. For food, they gave us nothing—raw corn or something like that. When we finally left the cattle cars, we were in Buchenwald.
We knew nothing about what was happening with the war, but at the time, Germany was becoming smaller. That’s why they evacuated: The Russians were coming in from the east and the German government wanted the smallest possible number of people in the camps in case they were caught and the world found out what was going on. Three weeks after I was evacuated, Buna was liberated by Russian troops.
We were in Buchenwald for three or four days. During the day, while they were counting us on the field, we could see Allied planes flying overhead. They were taking pictures of the camp, and they saw that the barracks that surrounded the camp were the SS guards’ home. The SS knew they saw that, so they took all the prisoners and put us in the SS barracks and the SS went into the camp. When the Allies bombed Buchenwald, they hit some of the barracks the prisoners were in. They didn’t know that the SS had switched it. Thousands of people died.
Those planes gave us an idea of what was happening with the war. I started to feel a slight hope. As a matter of fact, the Allies bombed a town, Weimar, that is maybe 20 minutes up the hill from Buchenwald, and when they did that, we started jumping up and down in our bunks.
My cousin Jimmy and Dave were in Basic Training for the U.S. Army and became good friends. Each served their country for two years. Jimmy was sent overseas to Germany, and Dave was sent to Alaska. Upon their return, Jimmy called Dave up and said, “We're going to look for some girls. Would you like to come with us?” So they picked him up from Park City. In the meantime, my cousin called me. He said, “Can you find some girls?” I said yes.
When they came to pick me up, they had already chosen who was going with whom. My date's name was Richard, and I don't remember his last name. He was really tall. He was real nice, of course, but I immediately thought it would not work. I was the last one to be picked up, and Richard was the one who was left over. Dave went with Leola.
But it was already after eight when they finally came and picked me up, so we just decided to go up to the Capitol and look around and stuff. Then Dave was standing there holding Leola's hand, and I was standing next to Dave, too. Pretty soon, I felt his hand taking my hand. I was just blushing! I guess he decided to like me, too, so I don't know!
After we dropped the other girls off, I was alone with all the boys. Dave promised me that he would come back and visit me. I was all excited. I thought that was just great.
He didn't show up for that first month. I thought, “Oh well, there goes a good thing. He didn't call me.” I felt really sad and I forgot all about it.
Then one evening, the doorbell rang. I was all dressed up nice, ready to go to a concert that was in the Assembly Hall with my parents. I went and answered the door because I was the closest, and there stood Dave. I was surprised. I said, “Dave! … That's your name, isn't it?”
“Come on in!”
Then we started talking, and I told him that we were going to a concert. I invited him to come to the concert with us, and he said he would.
My family really enjoyed him. On the way home, I went in his car and we talked. I don't know who said it first, probably me—I said, “I thought maybe you would call me.”
He said, “But I did! I called you several times, but you were never home!”
We figured it out: I was working nights, so I wasn't home when he'd call. My mother always answered, he would ask for me, and she would just say, “She's not here.” She didn't say where I was or anything, and he didn't ask her too much because my mother didn't speak that good of English.
So he had to come to find out what was going on. He was very happy that he finally did.