The Montana Years

Born in Utah, Raised In Montana, This is Part One of the Life of Janet Ethel Anderson--January 1933 to August 1956.

Born in Ogden, Utah During the Depression

I, Janet Ethel Anderson, was born to Carl Ferrell Anderson and Ethel Sigrid Larson on January 22, 1933 at the Thomas Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden, Weber County, Utah.

In a letter years later Mother described my birth day.  She said it was early in the morning and very snowy. Dad had to walk over to Aunt Erica's and dig the snow away from the garage. 

The depression was in full swing so anyone who could pay $25 in cash was entitled to full treatment at the Dee Hospital. They had managed to save that much. The Doctor was also cheap but was very hard to pay.

While we were in the hospital, Mom's sister Ellen took care of the other children: Richard William (Dick), David Martin, Jeanne, and Marilyn Avis.

Mom and Dad furnished all the food to feed both families in payment. Aunt Ellen could really cook good food with very little, nothing was ever wasted. All the peelings from the vegetables were saved, cooked till tender, and then put through a sieve and seasoned. Mom said Ellen was so skilled she could spend less for two families than Mom had for one. Mom said I was treated to lots of rocking as a baby because the stove was in the middle room of the house and the bedroom was very cold.  She would bundle me up and rock me to sleep, something we both enjoyed. I was given a name and a blessing on March 5, 1933 by my father in the Ogden 10th Ward.

Because of the depression and fear of being laid off, Dad had left his job as Assistant Manager at JC Penney Co in Evanston, Wyoming and was now working for Theo Soderberg, at his Meat and Grocery store in Ogden for $20 a week. Theo was the husband of Mom's sister Erica.  Before I was born Mom and Dad were able to move the family into a nice home near Ellen and Erica for a rent of $20 a month.  It had a coal stove but no central heating.

We spent a lot of time at the home of Aunt Erica and Aunt Ellen.  I thought I never let anyone see me cry, but I see I did!

The Big Move to Glendive, Montana

Dad was unhappy in this new type of work so when his brother Lorin wrote asking him to open a Karl Johnson  Co. in Glendive, Montana, 80 miles east of Miles City, Mom and Dad were  both elated and made plans for Dad to leave.

Lorin had had the opportunity of transferring from a Penney's store in Billings to manage a Karl Johnson Co. in Miles City. He became a partner and they decided to open  a Karl Johnson Co in Glendive, where a family-owned store was going out of business.  It was a wonderful opportunity for Dad and he left for Glendive in February 1934.  The store opened on March 24, 1934.  

In May 1934 we traveled by train from Ogden to Glendive where Dad already had a home for us.  Dick was the oldest at 10 years of age and I the youngest at 15 months.  My Mom told me I entertained myself by taking my socks off and and putting them on again.  She said when we arrived in Glendive it seemed to be the end of nowhere.

Glendive is located between the Badlands and the Yellowstone River, and is the center of an agricultural area of eastern Montana and western North Dakota.  There are large grain farms and ranches surrounding Glendive now,  but in 1934 the government was purchasing Dawson County cattle for only $5 to $20 per head.  Nearly all labor in 1935 except for a skeleton railroad force was from the government Works Progress Administration.  It offered work to the unemployed on an unprecedented scale by spending money on a wide variety of programs.  Business was at a low ebb until the start of the Buffalo Rapids Irrigation Project in 1937.  This was also work by the WPA labor in conjunction with the reclamation bureau.
Glendive Main Street

Glendive's main street is one-sided with a huge railroad yard and roundhouse on the other side.  The population when we moved there was a little under 5000.  It is not much different today though it has been larger.  The store that Dad opened was in the middle of town, right on Main Street.  It would be the focus of our lives for many, many years.

The Badlands or Makoshika  (before it became Makoshika State Park) was our playground growing up. There are unusual rock formations and many prehistoric fossil and dinosaur bones and wonderful hills to hike. 

Glendive's motto is "Good people surrounded by Badlands."

Early 1934 in Ogden
In one of my earliest pictures I notice I had a very suspicious look on my face which probably set the tone for how I viewed life, always a little suspicious and doubtful of anything that appeared too good or too easy.

I have always thought of myself as a Doubting Thomas and lean more toward the negative possibilities instead of the positive ones.  "Always waiting for the other shoe to drop" but very thankful when it doesn't.

In another picture with my Mom and Aunt Ellen I notice that Mom had both Marilyn's and my dresses in her hands so we could not get away, and I had the chubby legs which have stayed with me for life!

In Ogden, Mom had the friendship of her sisters and brother plus all the other relatives.   It must have been very hard for her to leave all her family and travel 1600 miles away to an area she knew nothing about.  Plus she traveled with five children on the train by herself.

Mom has always been a great partner to Dad.  She took care of the family and he took care of the income.  She said the depression brought out the best of everyone and there was much good done for those less fortunate.  She also felt it lasted longer than it should because those who had money were too embarrassed to spend it.

Yellowstone Bridge
Our first house was one block from the big Yellowstone Bridge and across the street from a small grassy park.  The Williams next door had a son my age named Billy, who wore long curls and he was my special friend, Billy Boy. Down the block and across the street was the huge Krug home and they had wonderful play things in their backyard.  We soon moved to the other side of the railroad track, the South Side.  And yes, it was the cheaper place to live.  With five children and a depression this was very important.

The Schultz's lived next door to us and were always such good friends. They had a daughter Pat, Jeanne's age, and Donna was a year younger than me but became a very special friend.  A funny sight was the day Donna ran outside in the rain with nothing on; we watched her Mom carry her back inside, under arm, bottom side first, as if she were a little piggy.

When the Schultz's moved to the North Side, we moved into their white house on the corner.  I was one of those children who wholeheartedly believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.  Every Easter we had baskets of candy and eggs to find and I never doubted who brought them.  Evidently I also believed in fairies because Carole reminds me of a story that Mom told her. We were visiting at the home of Mom's friend, Bertha, and Mom said she needed to go home and finish the dishes unless the fairies had already been there.  I quickly darted home and back again to inform my Mom that "Nope, the fairies hadn't been there!"

One Christmas on the South Side was especially bountiful with a Mix Master for Mom, sleds for the boys and dolls and buggies for the girls. The dolls we had to find by following strings throughout the house. Even David got a doll, it was the Kayo from the comic strips.

One of my favorite songs which we sang together was:

Jolly old Saint Nicholas, lean your ear this way!
Don't you tell a single soul what I'm going to say:
Christmas Eve is coming soon; now, you dear old man
Whisper what you'll bring to me; tell me if you can.

When the clock is striking twelve, when I'm fast asleep
Down the chimney, broad and black, with your pack you'll creep
All the stockings you will find hanging in a row
Mine will be the shortest one, you'll be sure to know.

Bobby wants a pair of skates, Suzy wants a sled
Nellie wants a picture book, yellow, blue, and red
Now I think I'll leave to you what to give the rest
Choose for me, dear Santa Claus; you will know the best.

I always felt that song was really about me.  Another Christmas we received a blue tricycle and rode it into the bedroom (Marilyn driving, me on the back) to show Mom and Dad. Funny things stick in my mind like spilling hot lemonade in bed when all three of us girls had the chicken pox and Mom had to change the sheets, and being caught up in the front yard tree when Dr. Danskin came to check on us. He didn't see me though and after he'd gone in the house Dick helped me down and I ran around to the back door and came into the living room so he wouldn't know I'd been outside.  I always wondered if he knew.  He was a very caring doctor. 

We used to play that scatter rugs were boats and I would get my brothers and sisters drinks from the toilet. I wonder if they knew?  One time I fell asleep on the toilet and when I woke there was Dave, Jeanne, Marilyn, and some other friends. Evidently they had charged their friends money to come look at me.

The first missionaries arrived in the summer of 1937 and David and Jeanne were ready for baptism.
Two Elders I remember very well were Newell Tingey and David Smith. Newell always had me on his lap it seemed and gave me a kiss to give his mother in Utah when we went to visit relatives. I said I would deliver it to her but I was very shy and when she asked me for it I just hid behind my mother. Aunt Ellen always liked to give us a big kiss when we visited and I dodged that as much as possible also. I did not like people hugging and kissing me or brushing my hair. Marilyn always wanted to pick my scabs (we had a lot of scabby knees) but I didn't like that either.

I was still a preschooler or first grade when I had a vivid dream of God and Jesus standing at the foot of my bed. I am sure it was precipitated by a picture illustrating the Joseph Smith story. It seemed very real to me and I can still visualize it just as I saw it. 

Our lives began to change at the start of the Buffalo Rapids Irrigation Project in 1937. Business began to pick up and best of all for my Mom it brought our first Mormons to town. The Neely's were a wonderful LDS family that lived in Glendive until I was in about the first grade. We began to have Sunday School in our home and Primary, too, though I remember very little about that.  Barbara was near my age and we always wanted to sing "In Our Lovely Deseret". We would both stand between our Daddy’s knees and sing as loud as we could on that song. I am sure it is what impressed us all with the Word of Wisdom. My favorite Primary song was "Little Purple Pansies". I still have the Deseret Song Book published in 1909 with that song in it.

I had a great imagination as a child and always talked about when I was up in Heaven and had looked down on my brothers and sisters. I felt very close to Jesus and because I had to go to bed earlier than the others I would lay there and talk to Him. I used to say I wanted to die so I could go live with Jesus.   My brothers' bedroom was actually a sun room with windows all around two sides from which you could watch everything that went by our house. I always liked sleeping in there and watching the cars go by. Sometimes Marilyn and I played the game of pretending every other one was hers or mine.

We played "Kick the Can" and "Red Light, Green Light" in the streets. I was still a preschooler so was a tag along. One time when boys were kissing girls and one tried to kiss me I bit his leg. There was one big, mean boy who carried a knife. I was afraid of him. There were a lot of tramps begging for food and Mom would give some of them a little work and food.  However, she did warn us about them. One day the bell rang when I was using my blackboard.  I peered out and saw the tramp at the door.  Mom was gone so I hid behind my blackboard so he couldn't see me through the front glass panels. I was frightened.

Marilyn and I were afraid to be alone at night but one time when Dick was supposed to tend us he gave us a nickel to stay by ourselves. She parked at one end of the couch and I at the other, scared as bunnies till Mom came home. Did Dick ever get a scolding!   

In the winter we would go up to the attic and push snow on whoever was walking between the house and the garage. It was probably Dave that instigated that.  Another happy memory was a little grocery store within walking distance from our home that sold vanilla ice cream cones with red candy cherries on top and licorice strips with pink sugary drops on it and cutouts which actually punched out.

I was five years old when Dad purchased our first car.   I had a recurring nightmare about it that I can still visualize in my mind. I was driving with my Dad in the car and he would have to stop and keep opening gates in the dark alley and when he was out of the car someone would pull me out of a hole in the bottom of the car and put me in a big gunny sack. I never found out what happened to me in the gunny sack but when I would wake up I would finish the dream myself with my Dad cutting open the gunny sack and saving me. Somewhere I had heard a story about some puppies that were put in a gunny sack and thrown in the river and I suppose that is how it all started.

We had a big brown Tom Cat who I dearly loved. He would let me do anything to him and was very gentle. One night he and another cat were having a fight outside and Dad went to break it up. We never saw Tommy after that, he may have been poisoned or hurt or just run away. That was the last cat I remember having until I had children of my own.

In the winter all of us girls had to wear long stockings. These were heavy cotton and usually brown. White stockings were only for Church and special occasions. The stockings were held up by elastic straps which were worn over our shoulders, attached around the waist and then hung down with garters to clip on to the stockings. The garters were in front and back so if you happened to sit on the back garter it was very uncomfortable. Obviously these were not fun to wear.  After we moved to the Heights the neighbors sometimes used our clothesline.  I don't know what possessed me but I took Shirley's white stockings off the line and when Shirley and her Mom came to the door to see if we had removed a pair of Shirley's white stockings by mistake they all looked over at me and there I was in white stockings.  As I recall I blurted out something like "I thought they were mine".  I hated those brown cotton stockings.

We had no TV in those days to baby sit us but loved listening to the radio to programs like Jack Armstrong, Inner Sanctum and Fibber McGee and Molly. Sometimes you had to sit really close to be able to hear. One time while listening a bolt of lightening shot across the room. We were supposed to unplug all the electric items during an electrical storm. Glendive had big thunder and lightening storms and many times there were huge hail storms as well.  Most people had lightening rods on their roofs.

Since I was the youngest of the children I was called Baby Anderson. This was soon to change. Carole Myrene was born on November 12th, 1938 and was the only one of us with blond hair and blue eyes. We thought she was as pretty as a doll. We were able to visit her in the hospital and I was impressed that the nurse gave us a drink of milk straight from a cow. Our milk at home was delivered by the milkman and in the winter the cap would be pushed up by the frozen cream and it would rise a couple inches above the bottle. This was delicious to eat, like ice cream (which it was). Milk was not homogenized in those days so the cream was always separated and on top of the milk.  Mom did not like us eating it as she would scoop it off the milk and use it for desserts.

Many of  the businesses decorated huge floats for the 4th of July Parade.  We children would ride in the float and I notice in this picture Carole is making her debut sitting on Marilyn's lap.  I am not sure she rode the whole way.  I am sitting in the rear.

In 1939  Dad was able to purchase the store and gave it the name of Andersons's.
A large family named the Roalds lived across the street from us and one of the older girls worked at Woolworth. Because they did not have a phone she often called our house and I would run across the street and deliver the message. She would bring candy treats after work and I especially liked the huge orange Halloween sucker with life savers for eyes as if it were a pumpkin. The thing I wanted most of all was a real banana split which one of the older Roalds had told me about. However, it wasn't until I worked as a soda jerk in high school that I was able to have my first banana split. I can still see myself looking in the mirror, sitting at the counter, enjoying my vanilla with chocolate topping, strawberry with strawberry topping and chocolate with marshmallow topping with a cherry on top.  I was pleased as punch.

Once in first grade I forgot my panties and didn't discover it till I leaned over to get a drink. I'll never forget the boy who threw up at our reading table, his name was Duane and I've never liked the name since. One boy was such a slow reader--I felt sorry for him. I loved school and have many happy memories of first grade at Lincoln School. The principal, Miss Hennigar, would often take our picture. She was a large, jolly lady whom we all loved. I liked books and reading and especially the box of words which we could take and make in to sentences. Since my birthday was in January I was one of the older children in school and it was always easy for me. At the school Christmas program I was wrapped in red and white cardboard like a huge candy cane.

We could also walk to the library from our house on the South Side and check out lots of books. My favorites were "Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka" and "Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr". These were stories about Swedish triplets. I loved the library.  Recently my sister sent me some of these Swedish books from the old library and I did find some new ones for my grandchildren in a little Swedish shop in the Napa Valley. I loved words and reading.  A favorite magazine that came for us in the mail was "Children's Activities" and I really liked going through the magazine and doing as much as I could by myself.

Besides having Church in our home we also went to the Congregational Church and Christmas Eve at the church was always a happy memory to me. We would dress up and go to a sacrament type meeting, come home and open some presents, then go to bed and anxiously wait for Santa to come. We also attended Bible School in the summer. Dad sang in the choir and had a beautiful singing voice.

Janet in First Grade

In one picture of me in the first grade at Lincoln School I am wearing a wool plaid dress. I remember the dress well. I also had the wool plaid skirts I wore with blouses and a sweater. We did not throw them in the wash but hung them after school to wear again and again. The same dress was usually worn two days in a row and we never wore pants to school. We did wear snow pants though and they had to be taken off and hung up along with our coat and the scarf for our head, the mittens, and the scarves for our face. Getting dressed for school and then lunch and playground and home again was no easy thing in the winter. Our mother did not drive and we only had one car, so we walked to school.

My first big trip was with the Neely's to their home in Williston.  I was a little home sick but the biggest problem was the oatmeal.  I didn't like cooked cereal but if I did eat any there could not be any lumps.  Unfortunately there was lumps and I kept gagging as I tried to eat it.  I was an adult before I even tried oatmeal again.

Beds for Seven Dwarf doll house
Before I was old enough to go to school I would play with my Snow White and Seven Dwarfs paper dolls. I would place them all over the living room and play school with them. The Seven Dwarfs were always my favorite and I currently am finishing a doll house for them and this Christmas my sister gave me a new set of stand up dolls to replace the ones I lost.  I even made beds and a kitchen table for them.  Granddaughter Kelsi loved playing with them this last winter.  Now if I could just find an old piano or have someone carve me one.  Great granddaughter Kate had great fun playing with my doll house last summer, so it isn't just for old time memories for me.

I really wanted a Shirley Temple doll for Christmas. And Mom had bought me one. However, my Dad, not realizing the importance of that particular doll, had sold it one evening at the store (some man traveling through was desperately in need of a doll to take home) thinking Mom could buy me another before Christmas. She had kept them at the store so we would not find them, as we always snooped before Christmas. Alas she could not find another Shirley Temple doll and so another doll was substituted. This began three impressions about life which always stayed with me. 1-You do not always get what you want 2-Christmas can be disappointing  3-If you really want something, you have to get it for yourself.

Mother's friend Bertha had no children of her own. She was loud and funny and we all liked her very much. She told me if I came to live with her for awhile she would get me a Shirley Temple doll. I don’t remember discussing this with my mother but I am sure I did. I packed a little suitcase and my brother Dick carried it for me as we walked about a block to Bertha’s house. It was getting dark so it must have been after supper. As we stopped in front of the house and looked up the stairs, there lighted in the window, was Bud. I can still see him as if it were yesterday. He was sitting in his chair reading his paper. He was big and loud as was Bertha, but he was also somewhat scary to me. I was frozen, I could not go up those stairs. Dick tried to encourage me but I would not move. Instead, I turned and sadly walked back home and never did get my Shirley Temple doll. It wasn't until I was married, had my children raised, and was working in the mortgage business that I was able to fulfill that fantasy and purchase, not one, but seven Shirley Temple dolls.  

Shirley Temple Dolls Acquired in 1980's
It seemed we went to the Saturday matinee at the Uptown Theater weekly. Snow White and Shirley Temple movies were my favorite, but I also liked Will Rogers, Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger and Gene Autry. There were lots of cowboy shows.

We lived a long way from the swimming pool on the North Side  but Mom let us walk there. She never did learn how to drive. I evidently must have known how to swim because she trusted that I would be safe with my older brothers and sisters even though I was under 7 years old. Perhaps she walked with us--I am not sure, but I have a memory of losing my panties out of my towel one time so I did not have dry underwear after swimming. Funny the memories that stick with you.

We had a good trick when we would walk into town and go to the store where Dad worked. We would wait until Dad was waiting on someone and then go up and ask him for a nickel or dime. I can still see that smile on his face as he looked at his customer and then looked at us and reached into his pocket. I don't recall him ever telling us to never to do that again. The department store seemed very large with the shoe department in the back right side and the men's department in the front right side. That was where I would usually corner Dad when he was helping someone with a suit or pants.

We would all be expected to help with inventory at the end of the year. Every thing in every box had to be counted as well as all the separate merchandise. We could also help with the various labeling and stacking of merchandise in the back room. This was all prior to the time we were old enough to be a clerk and sell the merchandise. Everyone eventually got a chance to do that and was expected to. I never liked to sell, but I liked the office work or working in the back room.

Dave, Marilyn, Janet, Jeanne in Front, Dad, Carole, Mom and Dick in Rear
Another happy memory from my early childhood was the Elks Christmas Party for all the children in town. Some of the talented children would sing or dance or recite poems. Then as we left each of us was given a paper sack of candy with an orange in it. Oranges were a real treasure to us as they were very scarce I think. Also inside the sack was hard colorful ribbon candy and chocolate drops with different flavored filling. They were my favorite.  I actually found some at the Dollar Store a few years ago.  They brought back sweet memories and tasted just as I remembered.

We Move Up--to the Heights

The summer before second grade we moved to the Heights, a very nice place to live and only a block from the football field and swimming pool. Our home was about 50 years old and very large compared to our other ones. It had an upstairs, an attic, and a basement. Mom and Dad had a sun porch off their bedroom and the garage was very small and narrow on one side of the basement. The house was on a hill and from the front you could look all the way across the river. I imagined living on a ranch someday over there because it looked so beautiful. From Mom and Dad's bedroom window you could see out across the town.

Because of that hill we lived on we could easily sled all winter and could turn right and go down to Meade Avenue or go straight down Kendrick and cross the street at the bottom. We would see who could go the furthest, though the longer you went, the longer the walk back up the hill. When we came in our hands would be so cold you had to first put them in cold water and then slowly turn the water warmer and warmer to finally get feeling back in your fingers. One incident that stays in my mind was the homemade toboggan several could ride on at a time. One time we hit dirt and it stopped so fast we were thrown suddenly forward and I really hurt my back. I quickly ran inside because  I would not let anyone see me cry, ever.
Intake Dam

Marilyn and I shared a bedroom. Jeanne had her own and Dick and Dave shared a bedroom. Carole said she did not have a bedroom until Jeanne went to college. I do not remember that at all. She was six years younger than I though, so probably slept in Mom's room for awhile. The boys later moved to the basement when it was finished with a shower, bathroom, and a bedroom and I would get their bedroom. In the winter we would huddle around the stove at the top of the stairs to get dressed. Mom told us not to run around in our undershirts or our slips in front of the boys but it was hard to remember that and since the ironing board was down stairs we often had to run down there partially dressed.

I used to play a lot at Donna's house and it was about two and one half blocks away. I think she  had all the movie star paper dolls and Bride and Groom and Baby Sandy. It was wonderful. She had a huge double bedroom and we could spread the dolls all over the floor.  Her paper dolls were all boxed and stacked in her closet and we took very good care of them.  I had a few, but nothing like hers.  She could always sit with both legs fanned out from her knees--I always marveled at that.  Paper dolls were a very important part of my life and today I have over 50 books that I have collected as an adult. At Donna’s house there was always homemade vanilla ice cream with home made chocolate sauce and ice box cookies. This was a very happy part of my childhood. One problem was that it was often dark by the time I left Donna’s and I was afraid of someone jumping out from the bushes. I would walk in the middle of the street and sing “He walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am His own” a song I had learned at the Methodist Sunday School.

After we moved to the Heights I would go to the Methodist Sunday School with my new friend Myrna and her aunt was our Sunday School Teacher. She would also have parties for us at her home. One time I had to use her bathroom and the boys opened the door when I was in there but I had my skirt around my legs so I just sat there calmly till they closed the door. I can see it perfectly in my mind. I had on one of my plaid skirts.

Methodist Sunday School
Shirley lived down the hill from us and I did like to color at her house but we were not to become the great friends that Berta Mae and I did or Myrna and I. There was also George who lived down the hill and he was a special friend until junior high when he started looking at other girls. He had a dog named Duke and our dog was named Star and those dogs were always together. George and I played together a lot especially sledding in the winter on our hill and Ollie I Over on his garage in the summer or playing with his Put Put car. This was a wonderful little car that you could actually drive on the sidewalk. In second grade he sat behind me and had a little more trouble with reading and writing than I did so he was always looking over my shoulder and I would let him. One time he mistakenly wrote my name on his paper and got a real scolding by our teacher Miss Welsh.

We learned phonics that year and there were big charts showing all the sounds of the letters and the books were about Dick, Jane and Sally. I liked school. The only problem was the math time tests we had in second grade. On the way home from school Shirley would always ask how many I did right and she always did better, it seemed. I was not competitive and did not like her asking. She would talk a lot about President Roosevelt on the way home from school. She was very smart.

Our third grade teacher was Miss Lane, so pretty and so nice. I decided that year that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. In third grade I also decided to keep a diary. Unfortunately Jeanne found it and read it and reported to everyone on the way to school that I said George hung his tennis shoes by mine! I was so embarrassed and it seemed very mean of Jeanne.

It was probably about that time I decided I must have been adopted. My mother was not very sympathetic with my thoughts though and teasingly called me Bridget when she asked me to do something. I told her I must have been adopted because I was always the one that had to run errands.  I must have had an attitude about errands because I distinctly remember walking up the steps of Washington Elementary to deliver a message to a teacher.  As I was walking I was thinking, "Why does a teacher ask you if you would like to deliver a message for her--why doesn't she just say, "Will you deliver this message, please?" because there is no way you are going to tell her, "No I would not like to deliver your message."  I could not have been more than third or fourth grade when I was thinking this but I have always disliked being interrupted when I was busy on something.  And I can't remember a time when I wasn't busy on something.

We visited my Dad's Mom, Mary Jane Lillywhite Anderson  in Boise, Idaho and she had me dust the dining room table legs and chairs.  She also asked me to stand in front of her for the picture.  She had had her legs amputated because of diabetes.

On the same trip to Boise, we stopped in Brigham City and posed with our Great Grandfather Benjamin Lillywhite, Jr.  He came across with the pioneers when he was only five without either of his parents.  That is quite a story.  He was 98 in this picture and only had one eye.  His eye had been injured in a wood chopping accident and he had to have it removed.

Since my birthday was in the winter and we had no chapel or baptismal font we had to wait until it was warm enough for me to be baptized outside. It was May 4, 1941 and we drove out of town to a large pond where there were lots of swimmers that Saturday. My Dad asked all the swimmers if they would sit on the edge of the pond while we had the baptism. There was one older lady convert besides myself. I can picture in my mind those teenagers sitting on the high ledge of the pond and watching what was probably to them a very strange sight. They were very quiet though. I was dressed in a white cotton dress which was very large for me and I was barefoot. I walked down in the dirt to the pond with my Dad and a missionary. I had seen pictures of John baptizing Jesus in a river and in my mind my baptism was very much like that. I was not embarrassed to be there. It felt very right and I knew Jesus would be pleased with me. I will always remember the way I felt when we walked up out of the pond and my mother put a blanket around me. I was happy.

The War Years

It was also in third grade that Pearl Harbor happened and once a week I would bring my dime for a war stamp to put in my stamp book. The books held about $18 in stamps which could be turned in for $25 sometime down the road. I do remembering turning in my book years later for cash.

World War II made some changes in our little Branch in Glendive, too.  Some missionaries who were working in Germany came to Glendive to finish their missions and showed us beautiful picture of Germany.  It was sad to hear what was taking place.  They were the last Elders we would have for some time.

On the walls of the school were the posters about the Four Freedoms and we pledged allegiance to the flag every day.  There was the Freedom from Hunger, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, and Freedom from Fear.  The pictures were of a family sitting at a table eating, a man standing up and giving a speech, a family in Church, and parents looking at a child peacefully sleeping.  Originally when we pledged we would start out with our right hand on our heart and then at the word "to the flag" we would salute the flag.  This was soon stopped as it looked too much like the salute of the Nazi's to Hitler.  After that we just kept our hand on our heart.

There were always news reels about the war before our weekend movies.  We would see pictures of the marching Nazi soldiers with their goose step.  I had nightmares about them and dreamed of them coming over the Canadian border to our hometown.  We had black curtains we had to put over our windows when there were blackout drills.  We also grew our Victory Garden, as most everyone did, with lots of vegetables.

Of course, there was the rationing.  Since our Dad owned a store I doubt shoes were our problem but I hated those white margarine bags which we had to squeeze to make the red dye in them turn it all yellow and then it didn't even taste like butter.  Previously the butter came in big grey jars.  I would always put my finger in the butter and mother would slap at my fingers.  We missed the butter the most though I am sure mother missed the sugar for baking. Double Bubble gum also disappeared from the stores.

George's mother shopped at the little store on the South Side and was friends with the owner.  One day she came home with a whole sack of Double Bubble gum and George came and shared it with Berta Mae and I.  I have a memory of sitting in our back yard enjoying the bubble gum and our friendship.

Before Dick
makes Ensign.
Dick went into the Navy after being selected to go on for training as an Ensign in Boston and small craft training in Miami. I remember him eating a lot of carrots before he went so he would pass the eye tests.  He also told me about training the eyes after he was in the service.  They would choose a tree in the distance, then a branch, then a bird on the branch, each time zeroing in on a smaller item to train their eyes to see well.  Mom used to boil Eagle Brand condensed milk for four hours and then send the can to Dick.  It was like a caramel pudding.  He loved that and so did we.  What a treat! Dick was back East for his whole enlistment I believe.  I remember him telling us about the parties where he wore his Ensign uniform and met many pretty girls.

David loved to hunt.
Dave wanted to enlist in the war but he was not accepted because his ankles and feet had been burned when he worked for the Forest Service in Idaho.  Dave always liked to play with matches.  One of his friends in the Quonset Hut was soaking his legs in kerosene and Dave was goofing around with his matches and when the boy saw what he was doing, he screamed to Dave and stood up and the liquid caught fire and spilled all over Dave's ankles and feet.  I drove with my parents to Coeur De Lane, Idaho and we brought him home.  He sat across the back seat and we had to be very careful when we shut the door that his feet were not extending too far out. He was told the scar tissue would cause him serious trouble so he did not get into the war nor go on a mission.

We also made afghans for the wounded soldiers to put over their legs in the wheel chairs.  Each child in our class was to make a square out of yarn.  It could be knitted or weaved.  We had our little weaving loom and even the boys participated.  We were very pleased when the teacher put them together and showed us the finished afghan.

We all had chores to do and one time I was working with Jeanne in the kitchen.  She was four years older and the boss of me, at that moment anyway.  I was evidently trying to get the sink clean and I complained that I just couldn't do it.  She told me to "use a little elbow grease".  I quickly ran to look on the shelf above the basement stair where all the cleaning supplies were kept and told her I couldn't find it.  I can still see that exasperated look on her face, but how was I to know?

Someone once told me it was the English in me that made me take things so literal.  My father's  mother was English.  My other grandparents were all from Sweden.

We had an interesting neighborhood.  There was Mrs. Elliott who would give us candy every time we knocked on her door.  There were so many taking advantage of this that she had to limit it to once a day.  Then there was the man with rock polishing equipment and we could watch him work.  There was greenhouse across the road from our house.  We seemed to freely be able to pick rhubarb stalks to eat with salt.  Rhubarb is still something I love to cook today and eat with sour cream.  I loved visiting inside the greenhouse and seeing all the flowers and plants. Across from our house the other direction was the hospital.  There were always interesting things happening there and it was where we would buy our coke out of the machine when we had a nickel or was it a dime?  We even tried skiing down their grassy slope in the winter.  And of course, we had the football field, softball field, high school, baseball field, ice skating rink and swimming pool down the hill within a couple blocks.  Quite a neat place to live and oh, yes, the creek that ran through it all and the railroad tracks and badlands less than two blocks from our back yard.  Our beds would shake when the train went by.  Yes, Glendive was a wonderful place to live.

The skating rink was made by flooding the baseball field from fire hydrant hoses.  There was an old shed there with a wood burning stove.  We filled it with wood and coal and it would get red hot and it was always toasty warm in there.  I do not remember any adult supervision but there were always older guys to keep it going.  Berta Mae and I tried to skate like Sonja Henie but the boys mostly played tag.  We were all fairly good skaters and it was a big rink.

'Kick the Can' was played with all age groups of the neighborhood joining in.  The boys also collected marbles and played them by drawing a circle in the dirt and shooting them at each other.  I never really understood all the rules of marbles or Mumblety Peg with the jack knives either but I always liked jack knives.  My Dad always had one in his pocket and would pull it out for a variety of reasons. In the last 10 years I would own one myself though it has almost been confiscated a couple times at the airport.  The games we girls spent hours and hours at were Hop Scotch, Jump Rope, Roller Skating, and Jacks.  Berta and I became especially proficient at Jacks and could sit on the kitchen floor below every one's feet and never miss a beat.  It was smoother on the hands to use the floor instead of concrete but we played anywhere we could find a smooth surface.  I tried to introduce Jacks to my own children but it was hard for them and hard for me, too, then.

At some point in time Bob and Warren. I think,  started printing a little newspaper called the Zippy News with little gossip items and they would leave them at our doorstep.  Bob was always so clever, and though not exactly in our neighborhood, where does a neighborhood begin and end in a small town?  I am not sure.  Warren was my sister's age and I never forgot when we were all in a tent in his backyard and he opened an orange and carefully pulled out all the wedges and shared with us.  It was like the time George and his sister Ruth had a huge Hershey bar and broke it all into squares and shared with me.  Now was it the food or the sharing that so impressed me?  I am not sure, but I doubt I ever had a Hershey bar of my own till I was older and oranges were very precious.

Miss Rhodes in fourth grade made us draw and color birds all the time and had a very cranky look on her face. I never did learn how to draw though.  One time she pinched my cheek and shook my face because I had gotten in a fight with some girl on the playground. I think it was Shirley or one of her special friends.

In fifth grade I began to like Curtis but in sixth grade it was back to George again. In sixth grade there was Friday night Recreation Center at the school and there were games to play like checkers and ping pong, pop to drink and dancing. Mr. Moody would actually put the girls and boys together in the middle of the gym and teach us how to dance. George and Bill decided that Berta and I should go on a date with them. Suddenly George and I weren't buddies anymore we were boyfriend and girlfriend--a whole new drama. We had a hard time talking to each other and we held hands in the movie and George sweated so much I felt sorry for him.

One of the beautiful memories I have though is walking home from the movies with George and Bill and there was a new spring snowfall that was sticking to the trees and yet the walks were melted and it was warm. It was truly a winter wonderland. We walked with Berta and I in front and the boys in back but what I remember most was how the town looked so beautiful all decked out in warm, wet snow. Usually when it snowed it was cold and the snow was so dry it blew around and there wasn't a whole lot of it. Luckily it stayed cold so you had enough packed snow for sledding but it was not deep and wet very often.

Miss Livingston also taught us singing and one time Berta and I composed a song but when she played it for us on the piano it didn't sound like a song at all. I was very disappointed.  Berta was a genius and could play the piano well at a young age as well as the violin.  I always liked her to play "Doll Dance" for me and her fingers would go back and forth so fast on the piano.  Once I asked her to play my piano lesson for me.  I couldn't understand why it sounded so different even though we each played the same notes.

Berta Mae had a wonderful imagination and I liked having her tell about our experiences because they sounded even more fun than they were. We had "Poco, Moco, Loco Island” which we had to put on our rubber boots to wade through muck to get there. It was a strip of land along the Yellowstone River and in the summer it would be exposed. We could find really nice mica and agate stones on the island. Unfortunately her brother followed us once and told her mother and that ended our trips. Evidently we were wading in raw sewage to get there.  Montana agates were very plentiful in the area and our neighbor would sometimes polish our rocks for us.

Since our house was very old there were lots of weird creeks and noises.  Sometimes after school, if there was no one home, Berta Mae and I would try to make ourselves scared.  We would sit very quiet and listen and then imagine what the sound could be and get ourselves all agitated.  I specifically remember one time being so scared we climbed on the kitchen table and eventually were brave enough to run outside to get away from "whatever".  We always liked the scary shows, too like "The Hidden Hand".  Using our imagination was a big part of our entertainment in our childhood.

We also liked to play in the canyon below the swimming pool and across the creek from Berta Mae's house. There were dense plants up and down the hillside and we would pretend we were "Nyoka of the Jungle" and be quite hidden from view. Nyoka was a 15 minute continuous serial that played on Saturdays at the Uptown Theater after the main show. It would end each week with Nyoka in a perilous predicament that was very fun to act out.

Across from the swimming pool by the softball field there was a huge, huge tree with lots of good climbing branches.  Someone had tied a very long, huge rope quite high up in the tree.  We would take turns standing on a branch while someone would throw the rope to us.  After we caught the rope we could swing way out and back.  It was so fun, just like Tarzan. 

Of course, we used to hike a lot in elementary school out to the Badlands and we especially liked Sugar Loaf. It was a huge gumbo hill that someone had carved steps in and you could climb up and actually be in a sheltered area to eat your lunch as there were walls all around it. I don't know what grade I was in when on the way back from the hike we stopped to have a fire and eat hot dogs and someone told some jokes about sex. It was the first time I began to get an inkling about that. When Marilyn was about in 7th grade Mom found her panties with blood on them and so had me run to the pool and get her. When she came home we got the sex and menstruation lesson complete with visuals and Marilyn had to start wearing Kotex. Thank heaven my period didn't come till I was almost in high school.

In 5th and 6th grade we had a special friend who lived down the hill from us. Her name was Ellen and she was Japanese. She with her family had been moved inland to Glendive from the coast because of Pearl Harbor. Her older brother was a football player and her younger brother was my sister Carole’s special friend. They later moved back to Washington state. One thing she and Berta and I loved doing is acting like entertainers for the army troops. The scoreboard at the football field had a platform behind it and we would pretend it was a stage and sing to the troops. It was always fun and we knew lots of war songs to sing. Ellen was a happy, fun person to be with and everyone liked their family even though we were at war with Japan. The American-Japanese were not treated kindly by the government during WWII.  But Glendive was different.  They were our friends.

When I was on a bus near the white cliffs of Dover in 2000 the bus driver asked if any of us remembered the words to the war song "White Cliffs of Dover".  I, of course, did.  Some of the other war songs we sang were "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree", "Saturday Night", "Over Here", "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again",  "Accent-u-ate the Positive", "I'll be Seeing You", "As Time Goes By", "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", "Coming In on a Wing and a Prayer", "They're Either to Young or Too Old", "White Christmas", "I'll Walk Alone", "Paper Doll", "Sentimental Journey".  Oh, there were so many.  It was the time of Glenn Miller and other big bands.  There were so many singers and bands doing shows for the troops overseas and probably the greatest love songs of all time were written in that era and we knew them all I think.

In 6th or 7th grade we had the play "The Little White Lie" and we had all learned our parts quite well except there was one part where we were supposed to converse while eating a donut and drinking some tea (water). We couldn't think of anything to say after we had discussed the weather (this was one part we had not rehearsed) and we began to eat our donuts so fast that everyone in the audience began laughing. Anyway I never forgot the message of that play that once you tell a little white lie you have to lie more and more just to cover it up.

Lorraine, Myrna, Janet and Eddy at Methodist Church Camp
The summer before 7th grade I was able to go with the Methodist Sunday School to camp near Livingston, Montana. Lorraine, and Myrna were my closest friends that went. It was boys and girls from 7th and 8th grade. We traveled all across the state in the back of a big truck with very high sides. It was not against the law then.  We had blankets to put around us but it was still cold as evening came on. On the way back I discovered the back of my pants had ripped and so I tied my leather fringe jacket around my waist and acted as if I was so hot. What a phony! Camp was very fun with hikes, lessons, songs, (no dancing--Methodists did not dance) and good food. We also signed Loyal Temperance League cards in which we promised not to drink or smoke. I was probably the only one that kept that pledge. We even put the boy's hair up in pin curls--boys wore their hair long on the top with a special wave like Alan Ladd in the movies.

You can see Lorraine's hair with a bandanna around it.  This was how we curled our hair.  We put pin curls secured with bobby pins all over our head and then tied a bandanna around our head to keep them from falling out.  I don't remember if we wet our hair or not but we did not have hair spray, I know that. The other way we curled our hair was to wrap strands of hair in rags, roll it up and then tie the rags tight.  This was mostly done by our mothers when we were young.  I also wore my hair in pigtails or wore braids that come up over the top of my head like a crown and were secured by bobby pins.  Esther Williams, the swimming star, made this hair-do very popular. 

Music from junior high was the Ink Spots songs and the song "Gypsy" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", to name a few. Myrna's favorite was "My Blue Heaven". Miss Cline took me on her lap at one dance and told me how pretty I looked. I was wearing a black velvet jumper with a pink blouse. Miss Pathman had us write poetry and Miss Corbett used to quiz us on history all the time. She would ask a question and you had to stand and answer it. If you got it wrong, she would say, "Check if off". If you had more checks than correct you had to write questions and answers from the lessons. I did not like her class or her tests. I also had some shoes with cleats on the heels. We used to do that with our shoes like taps. This particular pair of shoes slid too much on my feet they made on extra lot of noise on the wood floors. Miss Corbett told me I couldn't wear them anymore. 

Myrna in Ballerina Skirt
Myrna's mother was lots of fun and liked to sit and talk to us girls. She told us a couple of off color jokes that I have never forgotten though they were not very risque. She knew how to make the best divinity and had a good record collection. Lorraine's mother had the cleanest house I had ever seen. I was impressed that she even washed the walls. Berta's mom had a big piano in the living room and Berta's dad was always listening to the radio about the war. Norma Kay did not move to Glendive until junior high but she soon became a best friend, too. We decided to make corduroy jackets and they turned out really good. I don't know if an adult was helping us but I think Kay was our expert. Later we made large circular skirts with waist bands with stiffness in them so they would not bend. Good we had tiny waists.   Myrna had the smallest waist, I think.  The dresses would flair out when we danced around and we would wear peasant blouses with them. Kay became an excellent seamstress and it gave me my start. George began to like Kay though and that didn't make me too happy but she liked so many boys and was so popular it didn't matter too much.

Berta and I always were looking for ways to earn money and would caddy at the golf club or sweep the greens and one day we even vacuumed a ladies house. It was then that my Dad told me there were better ways to earn money than cleaning people's houses. Of course, I baby sat a lot, mostly the Meissner children and then Dr. Aby's children. One thing my Dad used to tell me was "To always be worth more than you were paid." We earned 10 cents an hour and 25 cents after midnight babysitting.

I think it was in junior high when I had my most embarrassing moment. We were swimming with Myrna's brothers and cousins and I had on a two piece bathing suit. We were trying to learn how to dive well and I took a real flop. When I swam to the edge of the pool and stood up my body was still smarting from the flop and I did not know that my top had been pushed up and my breasts were exposed. One of them reminded Myrna of that at our 50 Year High School Reunion! Must have really impressed him. Me, too.   Myrna was a super dancer and her partner was often Eddy.  They were the best at jitterbugging!

Jackets and coats were an important part of our life and having a leather fringe jacket was a must in my life.  I liked to wear cowboy boots, too.  We also went through the phase of the "pea jackets" like the sailors wore and they were nice and warm.  Eventually I was able to get a stadium coat which was belted with fur lining and the stadium boots also were fur lined.  This was great for watching football games.  On our heads we mostly wore wool scarfs tied under our chin.  This was not great for our hair though and we would often weather the night with bare heads or ear muffs.

High School Daze

The first two years of high school were full of activities. I always had a lot of fun and a lot of friends. Berta Mae and I determined that we were going to earn a big D to put on a red Letterman sweater. There were so many things to do like 75 miles of bike riding, 75 miles of hiking, 1 one handed push up, 10 two handed push ups, 200 sit ups. Things like that.

We would have my brother or someone drive us and our bicycles out on the Sidney rode and we rode back. Hiking was no problem, we had been doing that in the hills since we were in grade school. We had also had a man coach in junior high who had us do lots of exercises so we were good at the sit ups and push ups. Probably the hardest was the one handed push up.

Anyway we did earn our letters and I believe we were the youngest ones to do it. I liked wearing my sweater with the big D which was almost like the football players.

Montana State champions 1950
#80 John, #70 George, #84 Chuck, #99 Harry, #83 Andy, #76 Bernie, #81 Bill, #90 Dean, #77 Lee
Glendive was a town that really supported sports and football was probably our favorite.

Carole, the Cheerleader
Although my Dad also liked to take us to all the basketball games, too. We also went to all the baseball and softball games. In the winter the baseball field was flooded and we ice skated and socialized by the fire stove in the wood shed. So much of our life revolved around the sports and the dances that followed. We even liked to sit and watch the boys at football practice and would take their picture.

The football field was just a block from my home and the swimming pool where we spent most of our summer was across the street from that.

The swimming pool was large and round with a shallow edge all the way around and benches to sit on plus lots of grass. We were always getting a tan and would sit and play cards and eat and socialize.   One of our favorite games was canasta.

As we approached age 16 many had to work during the day so there were not as many as often but we all loved to be there--even in the evenings. There was a huge canopied band stand which was fun to sit and talk in and it was the place for festive holiday celebrations.

Bernie, Chuck, Bill, Friend, Berta Mae, Janet
Sitting by the swimming pool

I started working as a soda jerk at Brenner's and I really liked it but they soon found out I was not yet 16 and I had to quit. We made wonderful sundaes at Brenner's like Peanut Butter Hot Fudge, and Banana Splits with three kinds of ice cream and three kinds of topping, double chocolate malts and phosphates with marshmallow cream in them. Brenner's was across from the bus stop so there would be moments when several people were waiting and in a hurry for a drink or malt.

One time I made a man a malt and he said he just wanted a shake and there were a whole lot of anxious travelers waiting.  Dick was also there.  I felt so flustered and pressured.  I am not sure just how I handled it but I remember Dick making a helpful suggestion. Brenner's was a gathering place after school for many years. Someone started the fashion of cinnamon sticks from there. You would buy a little bottle of cinnamon oil from the pharmacist and put toothpicks in it to suck on.

Janet The Flagtwirler
Parades were always big in Glendive--at least the 4th of July parade. In high school I joined the flag twirlers and so marched in the parade. I was not the best but did all right.

I did not try out for any plays at school. Acting was something I definitely did not feel comfortable with but Berta Mae and Kay always participated.

It amazes me the time that our teachers spent on plays, follies, choir, tennis, band and other sports.  We were given so much opportunity.  Our gym teacher did girls basketball and flag twirling, for instance.

Berta Mae, Chuck, Norma Kay, Kay, Lorraine from left. Bill in center with hat.

Playing in the mud after leaving the Badlands.
We had a one hour study period so we really did not have to take many books home. When our senior English teacher had us do a term paper we really thought she was out of line but she said she was preparing us for college. Even though school work did not seem particularly time consuming I was still placed in an advanced English course at college. We had had excellent English teachers all through elementary, junior high and high school. The math was more difficult for me and I never wanted to miss a class for fear of getting behind.

Mr. Moody was my study hall teacher one year.  Dale used to sit in front of me and we would talk and talk and he usually said things to make me giggle.  Mr. Moody called me up  to scold me and said he thought  I  must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.  Berta and I had a crush on Mr. Moody in sixth grade and would hang out in front of his apartment where he lived with his wife.  They were nice to us but I am sure we were a nuisance.

Loved my cowboy boots
Most of us learned to drive before we had driver's education because John, a year older,  had a car and loved to teach us all to drive. Gas was only 10 cents a gallon, I think. He was very patient and let each of us take the time we needed to learn. I am not sure our parents knew this was going on.

I had my first car accident about a year later when I was licensed.  It was a cold evening with the roads full of ice and I was down town.  Carole says she was with me and hid under the dash when all the excitement started.  All that happened is I put the brakes on at the stop sign and the car just kept going and slid into another car going through the intersection.  I don't know who called my Dad but he was soon there.  I was scared to death and wanted him to drive us home but he wouldn't do it.  He told me to get back in the car and drive home.   And he was gentle about it. It was probably very wise of him.  I may never have driven again.

Our lockers were alphabetical so Lee was next to me and he and Bernie used to always hang around but it was Bernie's brother Mike who liked to dance with me and asked me to a formal dance. He was two years older. I liked him but nothing too special.

Sieve kept her saddle shoes so white.
Then Norm (Andy) began paying attention to me at all the parties and asked me to a formal dance and I became sweet on him. During grade school and part of junior high my boyfriend had always been George so mostly now I just enjoyed the whole scene of being interested in boys and hoping someone would dance with me at the dances.

It was in high school that I learned of the prostitutes that had a place on the other side of the bridge outside the city limits.  I could also recognize them when they came in the store.  One time when I was cashiering I watched my Dad selling a couple of them some shoes.  He appeared a little flustered to me but kept his cool, smiling and laughing and being very polite, but he was blushing. 

Once when their 'house' was flooded it was moved up to a vacant lot behind the Heights.  I am not sure what the intention was as it couldn't be operated from there.  Maybe it was sold to someone for them to live in.  I am not sure but some of us girls decided to investigate what was inside when we found it was completely deserted.  It was pretty messy but we got the general idea of what went on in there and learned a few things we probably did not need to know from all the trash that was laying around.
 Being thrown from a horse at Helen's Ranch
was the start of my back problems.

This reminds me of why their house was flooded.  The Yellowstone River would become frozen in the winter and an Ice Derby was held each year.  The idea was to see who could guess when the ice would break and start flowing.  There was a prize for the winner. One problem that often occurred, however, was the ice jamming and the water flowing over into the park and flooding the houses on the low side of the bridge.

There were lots of cute boys to have crushes on but nothing really special until Harry. The next year of high school, my junior year, was really to be exceptional because of him.

Harry was a big tease. He moved here from Whitefish, Montana in the middle of his sophomore year and for some reason I was in the same chemistry class with him when he was a junior and I was a sophomore. One day I had on a yellow silkish blouse and began to perspire and it showed under my arms. It was horrible and he had the nerve to tease me about it in front of everybody! He would always ask me how Andy was also and find some way or other to tease me and all the other girls for that matter.  

Since my sister was just two years older than I, I was always included in the big parties and picnics from the time I was a freshman in high school. We had a lot of group parties and dances but did not necessarily date individuals much. I remember when Phyllis, also a year older, found out I was actually a year younger than she was. She thought I was in my sister's class. The parties would usually include certain people from Marilyn's down to my class--three years.

I think I actually still liked my childhood sweetheart, George, though he had actually left me for other prettier girls long before, but I liked Andy and Mike somewhat also. At least I usually had someone that asked me to dance after the football and basketball games in my freshman and sophomore years. Other fellows I kind of had a crush on were Dean--(dated him once and we didn't have a word to say to each other and he later became Berta Mae's boyfriend) and another Dean who was four years older and a football player. I remember accidentally walking into him once and nearly fainting.

Harry played basketball, too!
The first I really became interested in Harry as a romantic interest I think was one night when we had stopped to talk to Harry and some of the boys in his car. We used to walk up and down Main Street and, of course, the idea was to casually "run" into the boys. They had National Guard on Tuesday night so that was a great time to go downtown around 9 pm in the summer.

Everyone, even the older people, liked to park on Main Street and just watch the people walk or drive by. It was not necessarily a slutty thing to do. Anyway this was in the summer and evidently this one night I snapped back a smart remark to Harry even though I was quite shy. The other girls got into the car for a ride and I wouldn't and so he got out of the car and began chasing me around the car--I finally got in (it was late and I shouldn't be walking home alone). I think I started to liking him that night.

The next dance several of us got a ride home with Harry again. He ended up dropping everyone off but me till I was the last one in the car. Naturally he asked me to get up in front with him. I did live the furthest away except for Deloris so it was not too obvious though I remember Dick giving him the sly eye and some remark as he was dropped off.

I remember I was wearing a grey skirt and peasant blouse and red espadrille shoes so the night must have really impressed me to remember what I wore. We talked a little and then Harry walked me to the door. I decided he really was very nice as I learned more about him. I think he asked me for a date. He was going to be a Senior and I was going to be a Junior and I was 16 and 3/4. I had been sort of kissed goodnight after a dance by Mike and Andy but the kiss goodnight he gave me was my first kiss that actually meant anything. It was actually quite thrilling and I can still remember exactly how we stood and where we put our arms, etc. Of course, my brother Dick, walked from his house to my house at exactly the same time so that was a little embarrassing.

The Gold Football
We did begin to date and he was fullback on the football team. We took State Champions that year and all the football team received gold footballs that they wore around their necks with a chain. One time when he was at our house my younger sister Carole said something to Harry like--"How come you don't give that football to Janet?" This was what you did to show you were going steady. Harry was actually quite shy behind all the teasing exterior and it seemed to be the momentum he needed to ask me to go steady. We were at a party at our house and I remember somehow being cornered in the hall for a moment when he asked me. I, of course, said yes, though I was terribly embarrassed that Carole had done that but I did love to wear that football. I have no idea when I returned it.

Harry and Berta Mae were Catholic so Dean and I went to Midnight Mass with them at Christmas. We sat up in the balcony and Dean and I just sat on the benches but Harry and Berta Mae were kneeling most of the time. We did have a lot of interesting discussions about religion--most of my friends were Methodist or Catholic with a few Lutherans sprinkled in. Marilyn and I were the only Mormons but we always defended our stand and never wavered.

At Easter time I always like to go to Sunrise Service with the Methodists and then we would go to the basement of the Church and have eggs, sausage, hot cross buns and orange juice.  I remember one year we went to wake up our Catholic friends after.  The Lutherans had their Christmas dinner with lutevisk I think it was.  I actually liked it.

After Midnight Mass one year Harry took me to a little party at his home and I met his mother and the policeman she was going to marry.  At the party they were having pickled pigs feet as a specialty and I did not want to eat any.  Years later when I was married my husband asked the gardener if he wanted to make us a special Mexican dinner--he did and it was stacks of pickled pigs feet tacos! 

At any rate Harry and Dean and Berta and I double dated quite often. Dean was quiet and Harry was always full of fun and Dean would go along with him. One night we saw a pig near the ball park and they determined they needed to catch him. It was hilarious, I drove and tried to follow them down alleys and up streets as they tried to get the pig. I do not remember the outcome. 

Mary Jane, Kay, Jackie, Berta, Betty, Viola, Deloris, Lorraine, Janet
Birthday Party for Berta Mae
Harry was injured in football that first fall we dated and I was visiting him at the hospital and feeling very shy. He always put his arm around me or held my hand and made me feel very secure as if he would take care of me, no matter what, I liked that. The following spring we went to the Junior Prom with Deloris and Skilly. Skilly's girlfriend Maureen had already graduated and must have been at college. A whole group of us had dinner at the Depot because our parents did not want us driving all the way to Wibaux. It was supposedly chicken for dinner but it was not very good and someone suggested it may have been rabbit!

Janet and Phyllis have a laugh
Oh, that is another thing we did in the winter is to drive out to the country and turn out the lights and wait a little and then turn them on and the whole field would get up and run--rabbits! The boys would shoot them and sell the pelts for money.

Harry had a sister Henrietta who married and we went to her country wedding dance. I had never been to one before and it was so much fun I had wished we had weddings like that. I met lots of his relatives that night. Our dates mostly consisted of movie nights, dances after the games, house parties at our house, Hanrahan's, or Choinard's or picnics out at Riverview Park. Sometimes we went horseback riding at night with the whole group. Some people felt our group was a clique but there were probably 30 or more people in that group. Most of the football, basketball, and baseball players and the girls who lived mostly on the North Side and a few from the South Side. We really had a lot of fun parties.

Party at Anderson home.
There were a lot who drank beer but enough who didn't that it was OK. If the boys were going to get drunk it was not at a party. We made taffy, fudge, popcorn, played cards and other games. There was a big barn where we would go roller skating and even tried some square dancing and the Catholic Church had Friday night dances, too. There was always plenty to do. One time when a group of us were driving around the Catholics were all talking about going to confession and I thought that was really interesting.

The only time I really remember my mother being angry with me was when we went swimming after hours and then went on a picnic in our bathing suits. It was a very warm summer night and there were a lot of us. We had a fire somewhere and roasted hot dogs, etc. It was actually quite innocent but because of the late hour and in our bathing suits it appeared to be more dangerous than it was. She sat and scolded me for a long time after I arrived home.

I had never had a spanking in my life and Mom never yelled at us.

Dad let Mom do the disciplining if there was any needed. Mostly I just remember being a happy family. Dad would get upset if we had other plans on Saturday and he needed us to work and depending on whether we had an important dance to prepare for or whatever Mom would come to our defense and told him we needed to have more notice to plan ahead. Mostly we would go whenever he asked. If you weren't working at the store you were expected to mow the lawn or help clean the house. There was always plenty of work for everyone but I do remember having plenty of time to be with our friends.

After Horrible Toni Permanent
Then there was Sam's. Sam's was a dance hall outside of town. It was a huge dance floor with train cars on each side that you sat in and then there was a bar at one end. They often had bands and the dance floor was great so we loved to go out there. I remember one time Bernie was drunk and tried to get me to take a drink but immediately someone came to my rescue. They were quite protective of us girls who did not drink, or at least of me. Once someone teased Harry and told him I was drinking and he immediately came over with a worried look on his face. I did taste Vodka once but that was all. I couldn't stand the smell of beer and Harry would not drink when he was with me. Drinking was never a temptation in my life and neither was smoking.

Slumber Parties were lots of silly fun
The only time I was actually in danger from drinking was when Deloris wanted me to go home from a dance with her because she could get a ride with Dean and she had a real crush on him (didn't we all at some time or another). I must have been a sophomore. Deloris and I sat in the back and there was another boy in front, not sure who. It was soon obvious that Dean had been drinking a lot. He began speeding and then the boys decided they should get rid of the beer cans because the police were after them and Dean sped even more. Dean went to make a turn to the graveyard and lost control of the car and we were weaving back and forth out of control. Sieve (Deloris) and I were rolling all over in the back seat (no seat belts in those days). Afterwards Deloris was to tell me that she was really feeling guilty for bringing me along into this.

Miraculously the car straightened out, the boys threw out the beer and somehow ditched the cops in the dark area behind the stockyards. I have no idea how they did it but we were anxious to get home by that time and I never rode again with anyone that was intoxicated in the least. I felt I had a guardian angel looking after me on that night but I did not want to stretch my luck. Although many of the boys and some of the girls drank I was never tempted by it in the least.

Junior Prom
There was one party at our house that everyone mentions in the yearbooks. I was not there because Harry had talked me into going with him alone instead of being with the crowd. So I missed the "biggest" party of the year. I do remember we had a special time though and Harry saying, "Now, aren't you glad you came with me tonight?" Most of the time we got along very well though I do remember being jealous when he would talk to other girls. He was always so friendly and nice to everyone. He worked at the Safeway store and when I would go in there with my Mom he would carry our groceries out to the car. He was always very kind and considerate and caring and I always felt safe with him. He later worked at the Conoco gas station and of course, we would always buy our gas there.

I liked to see Harry in his leather jacket. When I was a senior he went to Wahpehton, North Dakota to college and had me come with his Mom and stepfather to watch him play football and then we all rode back to Glendive together after eating at a restaurant. It was at the restaurant that I discovered my period had come and I didn't have anything. I stuffed my panties with toilet paper. It was a very snowy, slow ride home and I was wearing a blue suit and feeling very nervous that I might show through my skirt. I don't know whether I would have told Harry about that but I do remember he sat with his arm around me in the front seat the whole time and I scarcely said a word because I was so nervous.

For Easter in my senior year I remember buying a really nice pale yellow wool suit. I would love something that nice today. I also had a spring coat. The clothes were really quality for not much money. I loved my brown velvet two piece with a fitted vest and tight skirt and my purple corduroy jacket and skirt and my sweater that had music notes all over it. For Christmas one year I received a Pendleton circular plaid skirt. I had that skirt for years and it was used for dress up by the grandchildren. I also had a reversible pleated Pendleton. We would wear sweaters with matching bobby sox and saddle shoes to school and only wear hose and heels for very special occasions. We practiced walking in heels when we first started wearing them and how hard it was.

As I may have mentioned before--pants were never worn to school. We looked good except for our hair. We never knew quite what to do with it. We would give ourselves Toni permanents which did not look too great on me. We would bleach streaks in the side or top of our hair. We would put the hair up in pin curls. And there was a green slimy gel to help set the hair.

One time when I was home from college Harry took me for a drive in his brand new car. As we were passing the high school I mentioned something new there and as he glanced over to look the truck in front of us stopped suddenly and Harry's car went right under the bed of the truck and the hood of his car was rolled up like a sardine can. We were not hurt at all but it was so sad and I felt so responsible for damaging his beautiful car.

It was while Harry was at college and I was still in high school that I came home one day to find Alyce and Carole sitting on my bed reading all my love letters from Harry! I don't know what happened to them after that. I also had a wonderful scrapbook with all kinds of goodies from high school. However, when Mom and Dad moved to Idaho Falls it was somehow thrown away!!

Harry at Wahpehton College, second from right.
Berta Mae's Dean is on the left.
In my senior year with Harry at college I still had a good time with my friends at school but loved having Harry come home occasionally. I did date Lee and went to the prom with him. He even told me he loved me. He was a very sweet, good looking boy.

I danced with Bob in the Spring Follies in 1950 and another Bob in 1951.  The Follies was a really grand production for such a small school.  I am amazed we were able to accomplish it every year.

Winter Wonderland Waltz in 1950 Follies--Janet and Bob Second from Right

1950 Follies

Mrs. Henderson would make our formals and they were really lovely. Our auditorium and basketball floor had a huge wall on one side that opened completely and became a stage with a huge curtain behind it. Beyond the stage was the comfortable pull down seating. You would sit there to watch the basketball games, or the formals, or shows. Most of the parents would come and sit and watch the formal dances. We did all the decorating ourselves and really enjoyed the whole thing from start to finish. 

Dad owned a 49 Cadillac which we would sometimes be able to drive around after school and one of the teachers made a remark about that. He obviously was jealous. The Cadillac could not make it up the steep hill to Sivert's home though and we would have to roll back down.

My Dad had told me I could drive a 32 Chevy if I could talk the people into selling it for $200 and I did. I think the mileage was only about 200. It was in great shape and was fun to drive. In the winter it was the only car that could sit outside all night and still start in the morning. The Cadillac had to sit in the new garage that had been built near the street with an electric plug under the hood. Unfortunately when Carole started driving the Kitty she had the gear in reverse and was getting pushed by someone. It was never the same after that.

As for clothes we were lucky because our father owned a department store and we would look through the boxes when the new clothes came in. We would go down at night when no one was there and spend hours trying on clothes and deciding what we wanted before they were even put out for the customers.

Jantzen and Pendleton skirts and sweaters were very popular and we had quite a collection. Gay Gibson was my favorite brand of dresses and they all fit so well. I had about a 24 inch waist and 36 inch bust and hips. Dad finally put us on a clothes budget and it was $300 of clothes a year or was it $100? My memory could be wrong. Of course, when you were buying wholesale and nice dresses were about $19 that money would go a long way. However, that also had to pay for winter boots and wool coats, material for sewing, everything, so it added up quite fast.

At Elks Picnic
Even though we had nice clothes I can still see them strewn all over the floor as we decided what we should wear that day. When I finally got a bedroom of my own I was able to decorate it anyway I wanted. I chose lavender walls and a floral rose and lavender bedspread which I (or we) made. I also had a dresser with a long mirror. The window looked out on the front street so I could always see who was coming or driving by. It was a nice room.

Another happy memory was the Elks Picnic which was held every August. They provided all the corn on the cob, pop and ice cream that you wanted. Our family provided the rest and we sat at long tables to eat. It was so fun to walk up to the men dishing out ice cream and get as much as you wanted  for free! It was always a special event from early childhood.  Interesting to see the way we dressed, especially the shoes and matching sox.

The Elks were a big organization in Glendive and Dad was the head ruler for awhile.  One time when I came home form college I went to the Elks Dance with my parents.  Dad and some of his friends asked me to dance.  I was so impressed with how well they all danced.  They would swing me around and I had so much fun.

Dad was also on the School Board and Chamber of Commerce.  He was a leader in Glendive.

David married Dorothy after one year of college at Utah State and began to work in the Miles City
Anderson's and Jeanne married Stan after one year of college at Utah State and moved to Utah. Dick was in the Navy, and went to Columbia and BYU and then married Mary from New Mexico and brought her home to live next door to us. Mary was always great with clothes and we loved having her help us select our new outfits. Unfortunately, I never learned how to shop at other stores and this was a problem after I left home.

The first summer of Jeanne's marriage was spent in a large tent as her husband Stan was working on a lake. We went to visit and had lots of fun. The same trip we were at a Larson family reunion which was held at Lagoon outside of Salt Lake. Lagoon was important to me as a child because of the roller coaster we liked to ride and the treats we never saw in Montana. 

 We had a creek off the Yellowstone River that flowed from the river past the ball fields, swimming pool and under Main Street. It was a lot of fun to play in and was very low or very high depending on the time of year. I was there when they pulled a young boy from the creek. He had lived on the South Side and must not have known how to swim or could have fallen on a rock. I never forgot that stiff, blue look of his body, my first sight of death. Berta's father was a mortician and one time she let us go see the room with the caskets and there was a dead person in one. It was very eerie.  Then there was the terrible tragedy of the boys not getting across the railroad bridge in time and the terrible accident where several teenagers were killed. And the memorial that honored so many young men killed in WW II.  Although Glendive was a 'Happy Days' in so many ways there was our share of tragedy.

Claude with Skilly and George

The most tragic experience to me was the death of Claude Ziegler in 1950. He was Marilyn's steady boyfriend and near the end of her first year in college he was killed speeding in a car outside Glendive. I remember so well how devastated Marilyn looked when she came home for the funeral. The funeral was held in the Lutheran Church as I recall and the saddest part was when they lowered his casket in to the grave. I started crying and could not stop for a long time. There had been other tragic accidents in Glendive but this was the first of our special group. He was a beautiful person and such a waste to die so young.  

For high school graduation I had a white pique dress with a little jacket and white heels. I loved the look. Harry was not home from college yet but we all went to Sam's after and I remember Sam Lonning, who was much older, dancing with me and telling me that "You think you have the world by the tail, don't you? Just wait." He was so right. I did all right in high school and did earn a scholarship but my Dad declined it as he felt others needed it more than we did. High school for the most part was a very fun and happy time in my life, as was all of my schooling and childhood days.

Nothing really bad or traumatic happened to me. We were very poor during the depression, as most people were. World War II brought more prosperity, but we were never what you would consider rich, I don’t think. I was always surrounded by many friends, many activities and a very loving family. I did have faith in Jesus Christ and believed the Gospel  was true. Except for the continual disagreement between Harry and I on religion, life was very good.

Fall 1950
I was ready to meet the world.  I read somewhere that putting a child out into the world today at 18 was comparable to putting a child of 15 out into the world in the 50's.

And that seems reasonable.  As I review my life I see how much freedom and independence we had.  We pretty much said goodbye in the morning and came home to change clothes after school and then off again until supper and our parents had no way of knowing where we were or what we were doing.  We knew who we were, what was expected of us, and were trusted to handle ourselves correctly.  It was impossible to be a helicopter Mom in those days...and that helped us to depend on ourselves.