ORAL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 17, 1986

RR= Rose Rabenberg
SF= Interviewer (Sheila Frey)

SF: O.K. Grandma, let's start off this little story here by telling us a little bit about where you were born and when you were born,if you could tell us who your parents were and their nationality.

RR: My parents were both of German descent. I was born June 24th in Selby to Carrie and Sebastian Lien. My father took sick in March with pneumonia and died four weeks after I was born. I was born in Selby South Dakota . After my Dad's death mother went to Canistota to live with her folks as she was very young. I had a sister older than I.

SF: What year were you born, Grandma?

RR: 1905

SF: 1905?

RR: Yes.

SF: All right,then as a child you were born in Selby and then you moved back to Canistota. And you were only what, about four years old when you moved there?

RR: Back to Canistota? Oh no, I was only a couple weeks old.

SF: Oh,two weeks!

RR: No, I was probably two months old.

SF: Oh, two months when you moved back to Canistota.

RR: Yes,that's right.

SF: Now we know you were two months old when you moved back to Canistota. So what happened after that?

RR: Well, then we lived with my Grandpa and Grandma and my mother met Frank Gosch and she was married there in September and I was 3 1/2 years old.

SF: You were 3 1/2 years old when your mother married the second time.

RR: And then in 1910 we moved to Bowdle. Started school there. Lived about five miles out. Sometimes we walked ,sometimes dad would take us with his horses back and forth. When I was seven my sister was born in Bowdle sister Bertha. And then I went with my Grandmother back to Canistota. Went to school there. School was hard for me. Would rather to fancy work and crochet. Had a man teacher for several years. He was very strict. He would take the big boys and lay them over the seats and use a hose on them. We were all very afraid of him.

SF: What did he do the girls?

RR: He didn't do that .

SF: He didn't hurt the girls?

RR: No.We moved back to Canistota. No. In 1914 we moved back to Canistota from Bowdle.And then we lived there for five years. And then we moved back up to Glenham.

SF: That would have been about 1919 then?

RR: Yes, in 1919 we moved back to Glenham.

SF: Where did you live then when you moved back to Glenham?

RR: Dad bought a farm and we lived about 2 miles east of Glenham. Went to school in Glenham my 8th grade and first year of High School. We had our church in Glenham where the Horst house is now. It was a community church. Glenham also had many business places. I had to work out to earn money. Got five dollars a week to do housework.

SF: Who did you work for?

RR: Lepegard's, different times. I did more housework.

SF: They were just another farm Family?

RR: Yes, they lived up here.

SF: Did they have a big family ? Or why did you work for them?

RR: No not any family.

SF: No kids. Then why did they need someone to help?

RR: Well, she was just that kind. Just wanted somebody around.

SF: Just wanted company.

RR: Yes. I met John at church. He was much older than I and insisted on going with me. He had a car. We would always go to ball games on Sundays and shows in the evening.

SF: He had a car when you first met him?

RR: Yes.

SF: How old were you then?

RR: I was seventeen.

SF: You were seventeen when you met John.

RR: Yes.

SF: And how old was he?

RR: Gee, I was only 16 when I met him! And he was 28. He was 11 1/2 years older.

SF: O.K. And he had a car then.

RR: Yeah, he had a car. A Ford touring car.

SF: Is that what caught your eye then?

RR: Well, no! (laughs) He just insisted. There were several couples that would go together. Us girls did all the cheering at the ball games. Really fun. This went on all summer. John had been baching in the house we live in now. So on December 18, 1922, we were married in John's house here on the farm. Had a wedding supper.

SF: Now,you were married in the house that we are sitting in right now?

RR: Yes. John owned three quarters of land, some cattle and horses. And of course that's what my parents looked into to see that I had(pause)

SF: They liked him because he had land and a house?

RR: Yes!

SF: Well then the next question I want to ask you is how did you learn to do all the cooking?

RR: I was only seventeen in June. John was the oldest of 11 children. He knew how to do housework. He taught me to bake bread.

SF: He taught you to bake bread?

RR: Yes! I would always like to go out and help him. We milked cows. We only tried to keep two room warm the first winter as we only had a small cook stove. It was what we used to heat the house. John would haul his grain with bob sled horses to Glenham. I would go along most of the time as I was afraid to stay out here alone. We had only one bed and a few pieces of furniture in the other rooms. A homemade cupboard was all...(oven timer goes off) On Friday evenings the teacher, I always boarded the teacher,

SF: The teacher who taught where?

RR: Taught the Rabenberg school about a mile from here. And she insisted on staying here. But we had a lot of fun that winter.

SF: So there were some other bachelors?

RR: About five bachelors would come and we would play cards every Friday night.

SF: Every week?

RR: yes.

SF: And they all came with horses then?

RR: No, walked. Horses, horseback.

SF: Like in the winter too they'd come?

RR: Oh my, yes.

SF: How far did they have to walk?

RR: Oh, not too far. They lived just around.

SF: So they didn't get too cold?

RR: No, no. We'd stay up sometimes until 2 o'clock in the morning.

SF: What kind of cards did you play?

RR: I don't even remember. I think it was whist.

SF: You played whist?

RR: Yes.

SF: Pinocle?

RR: Pinocle, no never pinocle.

SF: So then you had to serve a lunch I suppose.

RR: Oh, sure. I always had something ready. I boarded the teacher for many years-different teachers.

SF: They were always usually single, young girls?

RR: Yes.

SF: Were they usually from around here?

RR: No, some of them weren't. The first teacher was Miss Bernard from Jefferson, South Dakota.

SF: Now, the time that you would board teachers here, you didn't have kids in school then.

RR: No, no, no. My first baby was born the fall and then we'd play cards, even when we had our baby. That was fun.

SF: Well, what else was there to do for entertainment?

RR: Nothing.

SF: O.K., i'm going to go down here for a minute and ask you this question. What were some of the things that you did outdoors as a homemaker? Did you work side by side with John when he did his field work?

RR: Well, we milked together. I used too take care of the hogs. I always had chickens. The first spring I was married I had an incubator and I hatched out 110 little chickens. And they were my pride.

SF: You had an incubator. O.K., now how or what was that?

RR: Egg. For chickens.

SF: But you didn't have an incubator like we have today. What did it run on? It had lights?

RR: Electric lights. No, how did we run that? It was by heat. Just used kerosene heat.

SF: Oh, I see.

RR: I hatched out my own chickens. I have pictures of that.

SF: 110, huh? That's great. So you worked outside and inside.

RR: Oh yes, I fed pigs, had garden.

SF: After you had kids, you said your first child, that would be Donnie, he was born?

RR: In the fall after we were married.

SF: After you started having kids, did you still do as much work outside?

RR: Oh, I worked outside all the time. I always milked cows.

SF: What did you do with the babies?

RR: Left them in the house.

SF: Alone?

RR: In the mornings, I'd run up, milk a cow, run up see how they were and go back down to the barn again. As long as they were little but then pretty soon the bigger ones were big enough to watch them. No, milked the cows and the babies always went down the barn.

SF: You just took them along?

RR: Yes, put them in the buggy and took them along.

SF: O.K., now, how many kids did you have?

RR: Eight.

SF: You had eight children and over how many years?

RR: 21 years.

SF: 21 years?

RR: Yes, in 21 years we had eight children.

SF: Then that is not too terrible close together.

RR: No. no, no!

SF: O.K., I was going to ask you a little bit about how the babies were delivered.

RR: Dr. C. Lowe came out for the first seven.

SF: From Mobridge?

RR: From Mobridge, he came out.

SF: So you had a doctor then?

RR: Oh yes. And he'd bring someone along unless I had someone here. Mother usually was here. And then for the last one he wouldn't come out anymore so I had to go to Mobridge.

SF: So you went to the hospital?

RR: Yes.

SF: Which did you prefer? The hospital?

RR: (Laughs) Oh, yes. When there are so many children around it's best to be in the hospital.

SF: O.K. Describe your first kitchen. Do you remember what your first kitchen was like?

RR: My kitchen was very plain. It had a little homemade cupboard, and a table and chairs. And a little bachelor stove. It didn't have no oven on or anything. No, an oven but no reservoir or anything.

SF: See, I don't know what that is.

RR: No, I know you don't.(laughs) That was what we heated the first two room with too.

SF: With that oven?

RR: No, with the bachelor stove. We didn't have no running water. We had the separator in the kitchen where we separated out milk.

SF: So where did you haul your water from?

RR: We hauled it from down by a well away from the place. We hauled it in barrels or cream cans .

SF: Did you have to get it more than once a day?

RR: Well, we kind of arranged it so we didn't have to do it too often. Once a day if we had the cans, cream cans.

SF: Did you have a cart that you wheeled them in then?

RR: We put them with horses in the stone boat. A stone boat and one horse.

SF: A stone boat?

RR: And one horse and they'd pull up the tanks of water.

SF: See, I don't know what a stone boat is either.

RR: I know you don't.

SF: Well, what is it?

RR: It's kind of a sled on the ground. It's a sled that slides on the ground that the horse pulled and we'd put our cream cans on it and haul them up here.

SF: That's something John made? Or did you buy that?

RR: Yes , you made that. And than we'd haul barrels of water up too for washing. From all the way down the yard.

SF: Then you did your washing in the kitchen?

RR: The first three years I washed on the board in the kitchen.

SF: Everything?

RR: Everything.He got me a wringer so I could wring. I didn't have to wring by hand. That made it a lot lighter.

SF: Well, where would you dry them after you washed them on a washboard?

RR: On the clothes line outside.

SF: Yes, but in the winter?

RR: Sure! I'd bring the sheets in as stiff as a board. Then I'd hang them upstairs. They'd dry.

SF: But they would still be wet?

RR: Yes. They'd dry upstairs. No. We didn't have it like they have now days.

SF: It sure is a lot easier now days.

RR: Oh my, yes. When I think of that...

SF: DO you remember your first refrigerator? Or your first stove?

RR: I just can't. I'm just trying to think. We used to haul ice. In the winter time they'd make ice down by the river. And brought it up in a ice house. Then we had an ice box, we called it. That's where we kept our milk- in an ice box. You've seen them already.

SF: Yes, I've seen those. I know what those are.

RR: Dorothy has mine. We put a big hunk of ice in that's where we kept things.

SF: And then that would last for a day?

RR: Yes. We had to put a hunk of ice in every day.

SF: Well, you couldn't put leftovers in it. It wasn't big enough for that was it?

RR: No, no, no. We never had leftovers like we do now days.

SF: When you think of all the things that are in our refrigerators today.

RR: No, we never had that much. We butchered all our own meat.

SF: But you don't remember when you first got your refrigerator?

RR: No I can't remember that. It was a propane. It run on gas the first one. That I do remember. But see we didn't have electric lights until, I can't remember that now. I'll have to ask Norman if he knows when we got the wind charger.

SF: But you can remember the effect of them, I imagine when you first got them in the house.

RR: Oh yes. It was a great thing to have lights. And so many of our things didn't work on the- that was a 32 volt. We had to get 32 volt irons and then I got a 32 volt refrigerator- electric.

SF: And you can remember that one?

RR: Yes, I remember that one but I can't remember when.

SF: Did you still have the same size kitchen or had you built this other addition on to house by then?

RR: No, this wasn't built on until , oh, Marie was about three years old.

SF: So you were still putting everything into your little kitchen yet.

RR: Yes, but that kitchen was a big kitchen compared to some people.

SF: Well, I guess that's right. It was half as big as your whole house.

RR: And we heated our house the first year we had more room with a hard coal heater. I don't know if you know what a hard coal heater is.

SF: I have heard of that!

RR: I wish I had my first one.

SF: It would be an antique by now.

RR: Oh my, it would have been great.

SF: With eight kids did you ever find time for recreation? Would did you do as a family for fun? What kind of things did you do other than work?

RR: They just made their own entertainment. They played ball and tore around and played.

SF: Fight?

RR: Oh, yes! they would fight.

SF: You had plenty of that too?

RR: yes.

SF: What about as a family? Did you ever go on any trips?

RR: Oh yes. We usually took a trip every summer. We would go to the Black Hills or to Canistota to visit the relatives.

SF: You would load up into the car?

RR: The car, yes.

SF: How would you load eight kids into a car?

RR: Well we never took all eight. We never went when we had all eight kids.

SF: You would just take a few?

RR: We just never went when the family got that big. It was in the early years that we'd go when the kids were little.

SF: Well, what about activities at church or school? Community things?

RR: Oh, we had community meetings up at the Wayside school. It was called Gethly school at that time. And we had community meeting once a month. And everyone would have to make an entertainment. And we had more fun. And we played games in the evening. That's when Donnie was a baby.

SF: O.K., who had to do the entertainment? Each family?

RR: They would appoint committees.

SF: What kind of things would you do?

RR: We'd play games like K-K-K-Katie and all those singing games. And it was just a small school room. But we had fun.

SF: But how many people would come?

RR: Oh full! Full house!

SF: So it was something that the people looked forward to.

RR: Yes.

SF: When did you join Extension Club?

RR: Now that, well, when was Dorothy born? '23?

SF: You've belonged now for what? 60 years?

RR: Yes, I've belonged for 60 years. In December of 1925 the clubs...I can't remember how we were organized, but it came from Walworth County I know and we decided we should have one in Campbell County. So, Mrs George Obie and I went up to Mound City and took in the demonstration. Made fondant, that's the candy we made and I will never forget that. I've never been able to make fondant as good since that.

SF: That's that white candy?

RR: Yes. And then we brought it back to three clubs at that time. But they just slowly tapered off. We joined one Club with Franklin Club and they wanted to get to their own up north here and they made a club of their own up there. Then we had to demonstrate again.

SF: So then you ended up in the Franklin Club?

RR: In the Franklin Club, yes.

SF: And you've been a member in that club for?

RR: 52 years.

SF: 52 years?

RR: Yes 52 , no 50, no 60! 60 Years. Dorothy was just 60 years.

SF: So you belonged to the Franklin Club for 60 years.

RR: Yes, 60 years.

SF: Are there any specific leaders or people that headed the clubs that you remember more than the others?

RR: Susan Wilder was the demonstrator at the time and then Leona Curtiss I can remember. I can't remember any --I don't think there were too many in between there.

SF: Those were the county agents?

RR: Yes. Susan Wilder would come out from Brookings.

SF: What do you remember about her?

RR: Oh, she was a very dear person. She was big. She was a large person. She wasn't very nice to look at!! And she was crippled. She had one leg shorter than the other. But she was a very good demonstrator and we all enjoyed being with her. And many times people would come out from Brookings and demonstrate.

SF: We don't get that very often any more.

RR: No. And I can't remember all their names.

SF: Well, not over 60 years!

RR: Now there was one, I wish I could remember her name. She came quite often. We learned a lot.

SF: How do you think club has changed from the way it is now from what it was?

RR: Now they have so much in the magazines that take the place of what we could get demonstrated on now that I don't...

SF: You don't learn as much now?

RR: No. We don't learn near as much. Of course when you were younger that was all something really new and we enjoyed every bit of it.

SF: Can you remember some of the things that you learned how to do in the early days of club? Some of the demonstrations like you said candy making was one.

RR: Yes, candy making. Taught us how to can different meats and different vegetables, because we raised all our own vegetables.

SF: Did you ever have lessons on how to butcher?

RR: Chickens. Yes, chickens.

SF: Well, that is something we wouldn't have now, I'm sure.

RR: They demonstrated that and to bake different things , I can remember that but mostly, was to sew. She'd always bring patterns along. They were paper patterns and we would cut them off and take them home and then we'd cut them off. I still have some of them.

SF: Patterns for skirts? Dresses?

RR: Aprons. Mostly. And blouses.

SF: Did you do most of your own sewing?

RR: Oh, when I was young that was about the best we could do for I don't know how many years.

SF: Did you sew clothes for all your kids?

RR: I sew for them all. Dorothy never had a boughten coat until she was 12. I made her coats and everything. Made them out of old coats. Everything was made over.

SF: And most of the sewing techniques you learned then you picked up through the Extension programs?

RR: Yes. Sure did.

SF: You never had any kind of sewing in school?

RR: No, no, no.

SF: What about your mother? Did she ever teach you?

RR: Oh no. Well, she tried to teach me when I was young but I left and, she sewed. And our sewing machines weren't electric as fancy as they are now.

SF: No. I suppose you had the...

RR: Treadle.

SF: Have there been any incidences that have happened with club members that stand out that were extremely funny? Or any trips you have taken`with extension?

RR: Mrs. Huseman and I and Mrs.Gene Beckman went to Hiseka for a mother's camp for a week.

SF: That was where?

RR: Hiseka, South Dakota, near Rapid City. And we stayed there a week. I had three children and I left them with my mother. And we went out there. I drove the car. And we got out there, stayed a week and come home. And it rained and rained and we had such muddy roads coming home, we just hardly made it.

SF: Well, what did you do out there for a week?

RR: Oh we swam, and we did fancy work . They had different pillows you know that they would have us make. Just visit and eat breakfast and dinner and supper out there. It was fun.

SF: You didn't do any camping? You were staying in Cabins?

RR: We stayed in cabins.

SF: And somebody else cooked the food for you?

RR: Yes. And we would just go swimming in the creek. In the Rapid Creek, I think it was.

SF: Now was that a state thing? People from all over the state were there?

RR: Yes. That was a mother's camp.

SF: But you didn't have any kids?

RR: No. We didn't take the children with us. They stayed home. And one lady was so big and we didn't have swim suits. We just went in in our underclothes or our slips. She'd go in and the slip would fly up and , we had fun.

SF: You can remember that kind of stuff.

RR: Oh, yes! I should say so.

SF: O.K., what about the friendships that you made in your club? Are you still friends with some of the original club members?

RR: Yes, but so many of them are passed on. They aren't living any more.

SF: But you have some of them around here yet?

RR: Not too many from the time we started. About three. Alice and Agnes and...

SF: What about LIzzie?

RR: Lizzie didn't join club then yet. So just those few. Also took some tours.

SF: Where to?

RR: One to Orlando, Florida and one to Philadelphia.

SF: That was later on in your years?

RR: Yes, later on, but you probably don't want to put that on yet.

SF: That's all right. Just talk a little bit about them.

RR: Well to Orlando, Florida we went in two buses. I met a lot of people. Haven't seen them again either. Then one time we went to Philadelphia and from there we went to New York, Niagara Falls, Detroit.

SF: How long were you gone then?

RR: Two weeks.

SF: Both of them were two week trips?

RR: Yes.

SF: And it was just Extension women?

RR: Yes. It was just Extension women.

SF: Did they take husbands along too?

RR: Yes, some took husbands.

SF: When did you go on those? Do you remember?

RR: Oh, I don't! I have literature on that so I could know. I'd have to look it up.

SF: The depression of the 30's. You lived through that . Could you recall a little bit about what it was like?

RR: Well, it was hard times. Hard going. There was a time when we had to sell our cows for $20 a piece.

SF: You were happy to get it?

RR: Why yes. We had to take it. And I'd make butter, sell butter and deliver butter in Mobridge. Deliver cream and eggs.

SF: Did you ever feel like you didn't know where your next meal was coming from?

RR: Oh, no. We never did. We always had our own meat and always had our own potatoes. We grew our own vegetables. It was just the little extras that we would need now and then. And clothes. And we got along fine. The children felt very badly about when they went to school, the parents that worked on WPA, they got commodities. They got beautiful fruit and stuff and my children didn't have it because we never would join the WPA. We wanted to do it on our own. And we made it good.

SF: How many years do you think that you felt the effects of the depression?

RR: Oh it was about, I have an idea, at least 6 or 7 years that it was that way. Then it just slowly improved. And as it improved we bought more land and we bought more cattle and we had more cattle and we had better going.

SF: What kind of machinery did your husband at the time of the depression?

RR: Well, we had a Ford tractor, that I remember. A Fordson, they called it. Most of the time he farmed with horses, but in the depression we had tractors. We had an Oliver tractor and we had tractors and machinery to go with it, in them years. And then in 32 it got better.

SF: In '32?

RR: Well, it couldn't have been five years then that we, well, it was better then.

SF: They refer to those as being the dirty 30's.

RR: Yes, it was the dirty 30's. We didn't grow anything but thistles.

SF: It never rained?

RR: No, just blew and blew everything away and when it rained it rained so hard and washed everything out.

SF: So you never planted any crops?

RR: Oh, yes. there were crops but not many. They didn't yield very much.

SF: So you did end up with a little bit?

RR: Oh, we always had some because we farmed more.

SF: At that time how many kids did you have here?

RR: Well about five.

SF: How far did they have to go to school? Did they walk?

RR: We just had our school right over here. They only had to walk a mile.

SF: So they walked to school in the morning.

RR: Oh, yes. They'd always walk.

SF: Just right across the prairie?

RR: Yes. Then things were rationed. Sugar was rationed. Beings I had a large family I got more sugar. But we learned how to bake with syrup, white syrup. We baked a lot of cakes with white syrup. And the kids enjoyed them. They liked them.

SF: Well, you say it was rationed, that meant when you went to the grocery store they would tell you...

RR: Just so much from the books. You would get so many for each one. Five pounds of sugar.

SF: O.K., were there any foods that were that besides sugar?

RR: No, sugar was mainly rationed.

SF: What about like coffee?

RR: No, no.

SF: There was no problem with that?

RR: Well, we didn't drink much coffee. We drank milk.

SF: I suppose because you raised that.

RR: Yes, we had that. It was cheaper.

SF: At that time do you ever remember any of your farm friends in the community having to pack up and take off? Did many of them have to leave?

RR: No. No, they didn't. They lived through it. Not like they would now days. They'd pack up and go.

SF: I think maybe you're right. They were used to little more hard times.

RR: Why sure. And when we had our cream and eggs and butter and sold that to people in Mobridge. And if we had anything leftover, the children would sometimes get some candy or a treat. We would have to buy our flour and our sugar and different things sometimes when we'd want a treat.

SF: How did you churn your butter? Did you have an old wooden churn?

RR: Yes. It was an old wooden churn and the kids would take turns churning and they'd get so mad. They got tired of doing it. But, they did it. They churned. Most of the time John and I would have to help out.

SF: Did you do that everyday?

RR: Oh, we wouldn't churn butter everyday. Oh, no. About twice a week. That cream has to sour. Then we didn't have ice or cold water either like they have now days, but we made it.

SF: I've never seen an old wooden churn working so how much butter would you make in something like that?

RR: Well, you could make about three gallons of cream.

SF: Oh, you could put quite a bit in then.

RR: Yes, you could put quite a bit in. One of the churns we called a stomper.We had to go up and down in a jar, a big crock.

SF: How long would it take to churn three gallons of cream into butter?

RR: Well, it depended on what temperature we had it. If we had it on the right temperature it would churn butter in a hurry. And sometimes it would take for ever.

SF: Are you talking an hour?

RR: No. Half hour to 45 minutes.

SF: Oh, that isn't so terrible.

RR: No.

SF: Kind of like when you crank ice cream.

RR: And the buttermilk the people bought the butter milk. We always sold the buttermilk. One time we went to town with the car with the back seat full of produce and the back wheel fell off and everything went to pieces in the back seat. So we didn't haven't much cream or eggs left. They were just smashed up.

SF: What did you do then?

RR: Well,...

SF: Did you have to go to get help, or what?

RR: Sure, we had to get help to get a wheel. The wheel went off of the old Chevrolet car.

SF: You mean you were just driving along and all of a sudden...

RR: The wheel fell off!! Yeah!

SF: Oh, those are the kind of things you don't forget, I guess.

RR: No, you bet not! You don't forget that. We salvaged some of the stuff. It didn't all break.

SF: That trip to town wasn't as profitable as some of the others.

RR: No, I should say it wasn't! And in those depression years we went to the Black Hills, and you couldn't buy tires like we can now days all over because lots of time we didn't have the money to buy and we took some spare along and they went bad. We had quite a time getting home because one of the tires was bad. But we made it. We were happy.

SF: Did you have to walk any distance?

RR: No. No. We always managed.

SF: When you say you went to town to sell your cream or butter, did you go to Glenham or to Mobridge?

RR: Mobridge. Always went to Mobridge. I would raise chickens and people from Mobridge would come out and butcher them.

SF: You would butcher them right out here?

RR: Yes. There is one lady in Mobridge yet that remembers doing that.

SF: She would come out here and help you butcher them?

RR: No, she would take them home. We would cut their heads off and she would take them home and clean them.

SF: Oh, she did the cleaning herself then?

RR: Yes.

SF: Then how much would you get for a chicken?

RR: Oh, my. If we got $1.50 we'd thought we got a lot.

SF: That doesn't sound too bad. What do you get now? $3.50?

RR: Yes, I think so.

SF: Did you ever have to work outside of the home other than just taking of your own family? You never had any other kind of a lob?

RR: No. no. no. I'd help in the field if it was necessary.

SF: But you never held a paying job outside the home?

RR: No, never.

SF: What were some of the problems of raising a large family in a small home?

RR: Well, my house wasn't just all that small. We didn't have all the conveniences. I don't know just what we did. Made the best of it! We didn't have no bathrooms or anything.

SF: They all had to take turns?

RR: Yes! They had to go out to the cold outhouse. Take a light along. They'd like to take a flashlight along if we had one. That was never too far away from the house.

SF: What about keeping your kids in clothes? Did you have the trouble of them out-growing what they had?

RR: Well, they traded down and we made over.

SF: What about shoes?

RR: Well, that was problem to get. Our oldest girl had such big feet we couldn't get shoes to fit her!

SF: Did you ever make shoes?

RR: No. We always bought shoes. Oh, yes. We always had shoes. We never were that hard up that we didn't have anything.

SF: Well sometimes you do read stories of some of the pioneers having to make their own.

RR: Well, that was more in my Grandmother's day.

SF: I suppose that was even before you then.

RR: Oh my yes.

SF: Even with all the kids around, did you ever feel any kind of loneliness or isolation because you lived on the farm?

RR: No. We enjoyed it. We enjoyed every minute out here. There was no chance of being lonely. There was a happy bunch of kids.

SF: And there was always work to do.

RR: Always something to do and they always had their own work to do too. Some would like to milk cows and some wouldn't. Some would like to take care of pigs and some wouldn't. And that is the way it went.

SF: So, everyone had their own little special job.

RR: Yes.

SF: Were their some who didn't want to do anything?

RR: Oh, yes. They always tried to get out of it!

SF: What about your church? Where did you go to church?

RR: We went to church in Glenham, most of our life. To the Lutheran church. It was a community church , one little room.

SF: Do you remember who the pastor was?

RR: Well, the first Pastor was Pastor Eggert.

SF: Did he live in Glenham?

RR: No. They lived in Mobridge. The Pastors always lived in Mobridge. Quite a confusion about that all the time because the Pastors wanted to live in Mobridge rather than the little town of Glenham. Their wives didn't want to live in Glenham. And then we made a basement where the original church is now. We had a basement church for many years. And then we built up on that. My sister was married in that church in the basement. And we had gas lanterns. That's how we lit it. I can't remember really how we heated it. There was no electricity.

SF: What did they have an organ or piano?

RR: Well, we evidently had an organ. Oh, yes.

SF: Now in the early years you and John went to church there?

RR: Oh, yes. We always went to church there.

SF: You take ever take a horse and buggy?

RR: No, we had a car. We always had a car. He had a car when we got married so we always had a car.

SF: Well, that was kind of nice. Not everybody had a car when they first got married.

RR: No. I got a picture when I was in front of the first car he came to see me in. It was a brand new Ford. Touring car .

SF: Pretty spiffy?

RR: We thought we were in style!

SF: Well, you probably were.

RR: We were one of the ones who were a little better situated than a lot of them.

SF: How did you feel about the effect of the world wars? I know your husband was in one war.

RR: He was in a war before we were married. That was before we were married.

SF: In WW I?

RR: Yes, in WW I. He was just in from September to November. He wasn't in many months.

SF: Could you remember how that effected the country, the wars?

RR: Oh the people were very excited. And I can remember when the war ended, the 11th of November. The church , we lived in Canistota then, and the church bells rang and everything in town was alive. And I guess in the bigger cities it was really a riot when the war ended.

SF: You mean for cheering?

RR: Yes. I can remember that very well. But the other wars didn't affect us much because we never had to sent anybody of our own family. My cousins went.

SF: There was no rationing of food or anything like that during any of the other the wars like there was as in the depression?

RR: No. Well, maybe that was in the war time when the sugar was rationed. It could have been in the war time when sugar was rationed. Rather than during the depression.

SF: Then in WW II none of your sons had to go?

RR: No, there was none. But it wasn't very nice. We'd hear things. We didn't have radios and stuff. We didn't get a newspaper.

SF: Would you have had sons that were old enough to go?

RR: No,none of our ever did. Don was in the ...he went to school in Brookings and he went into the National Guard but he never was called.

SF: Oh, I see. Then the others were all girls?

RR: Yes. Ted would have been called if he would have been off the farm. But they they exempt the country boys. But John lost a brother in the first world war.

SF: You still have his army uniform?

RR: Yes, I sure do. I have everything except the shoes.

SF: That's an antique. That is something someday you will have to put in a museum.

RR: Oh, you think so? There seems to be so many of them.

SF: Well, it is kind of an interesting thing to have.

RR: Yes, it sure is.

SF: I was wondering if your could talk a little bit about when your husband died and how old you were? Were kids home and the situation you were left in?

RR: I was well supported, I'll say that. And he died on April 26, 1962. I was 57 years old at the time. And my youngest child was 17.. And he stayed on the farm with me and between him and I we managed. My daughter and her husband lived on the yard with us for several years after he died. And everything went along fine although there a empty spot, a very big empty spot here. And I think that my son-in-law still takes after my husband on many of the jobs that he does.

SF: Norman?

RR: Yes. He's very much like him.

SF: How did your husband die?

RR: He died of cancer. He was sick for a year and a half. He had surgery when they found it in February and he lived a pretty good summer. And then in January we went to Texas and we had two weeks and we enjoyed it very much. And then he got sick in April and that...

SF: It has been 25 years now.

RR: 25 years now and I've been on the same farm since.

SF: What do you think he'd think if he saw it today?

RR: Well, I don't know. He wouldn't, well, I don't know.

SF: Well, you've kept it up.

RR: Oh, yes. The place has been changed a lot. Everything has been changed so much. But I enjoy it out here and I would hate to leave but some day is coming when I am going to go.

SF: I had a question in here about how you handled the grief of losing your husband. Now there are so many things. If a person has trouble they can go to support groups. What kind of things did you do?

RR: Well, I just stayed on the farm and took care of the business.

SF: Just kept on working?

RR: Yes, just kept on working.

SF: What changed have you seen in the areas of food preparation and food preservation over the years?

RR: Oh, my!

SF: When you first started your duties as a homemaker when you were first married in comparison to things today.

RR: Well, we didn't have no electric mixer. We did have sometimes we had an egg beater, a rotary one. And we would make several breads and cakes and everything by hand.

SF: How would you make an angel food cake without an electric mixer?

RR: We would use what they called a wire whisk or spoon and we worked that up until we were done. And I made many angel food cakes and they were all baked in the cookstove.

SF: What about the way you preserved your foods? Did you ever dry any of your foods?

RR: Sometimes we did. But I never liked that. We dried beans and dried corn but that was not good. It had to cook for hours after we did that.

SF: What about fruits?

RR: No, we never did. We bought dried fruit. Dried fruits were cheap.

SF: Today dried fruits are such a big fad. Everyone has dehydrators and then in the early days you never did that?

RR: No. No. We canned it mostly all. We used to go down to the river and get choke cherries and plums and plum sauce. I still have a jar of plum sauce I picked many many years ago.

SF: So you would can wild fruits?

RR: Yes. Many wild fruits. Plums and choke cherries. Children loved it. What they ate them days they sure wouldn't eat now.

SF: Are there foods that use today, like in your cooking and things that you have in your cupboard right now that you probably had never heard of years ago? Are there things you buy today that were unavailable to you then?

RR: Well, like canned cherries for pies and pumpkin that is all canned now days. We made our own pumpkin, grew pumpkins and made our own pumpkin and canned that. We would not freeze it because we didn't have a freezer.

SF: So, when you wanted a pumpkin pie you just got a can of that off the shelf.

RR: Why, sure. Sure. Made our own pies. They were good too!

SF: I imagine there are people today that don't even know you could do that.

RR: Now days they have to have everything bought out of the stores. We had our own lard and made our own pies. We never thought of buying things from the store.

SF: All the mixes?

RR: Those, it hasn't been so many years since the mixes were on the shelves. And all these different foods. Some are new to us too.

SF: There are new ones coming out all the time. How concerned were you with being sure that the meals you cooked were nutritionally sound? When you cooked your meals, we talk now of the four food groups,did you ever think about that?

RR: No, we never did. Our children had meat, potatoes and gravy, a vegetable , we always had a vegetable and sauce and we always tried to have cake. And what more? Lettuce. We had fresh garden lettuce in the summer. But we never had fresh fruits and vegetables like that. Never thought of them.

SF: And you had your own milk.

RR: Had all the milk and cream and butter we wanted.

SF: What about cheeses?

RR: Well, we would buy cheese once in awhile but very seldom. I made some cheese different times but not very often.

SF: Did you make cottage cheese?

RR: Oh, yes. We had cottage cheese in the summer time. In the summer time we'd make but cottage cheese but not in the winter.

SF: So that you didn't buy? If you could make it?

RR: Oh, we always made cottage cheese and then we'd make all those different German dishes with cottage cheese. They were good.

SF: Like what?

RR: Cheese Knoepfels was one for sure and Kuchen with cheese, cottage cheese. The children loved them.

SF: There were some more of these old German dishes with the noodles.

RR: Well, we didn't make too much. We made noodles. We made our own egg noodles. We always made our own egg noodles. But we would make some, well, I never was learnt to make some of those heavy meals like Dompf Nudles and whatever they had. But I do make them now.

SF: O.K., now you said you made your own noodles. Would you make enough at one time to last for a week.

RR: No. No, we made , usually we used up in a day or two what we made. We always would use them up because we didn't have a way of preserving them. They would get buggy real easy.

SF: What about your bread? Did you have to bake bread every day?

RR: Oh, no. I baked 5-6 loaves of bread about three times a week. We just ate that much bread. Bread was a family treat- best there was.

SF: Did you ever grind any of your own flour?

RR: Not very often. Not very often.

SF: You usually bought white flour?

RR: Yes. And we'd buy it by the 500 pounds or ton in the fall and store it so we had our flour. We went to the, Glenham used to have a flour mill. And we used to get our mill from Glenham. That burnt down and then we'd go to Bowdle and get our flour from Bowdle. We would take wheat and exchange it for flour.

SF: They would have it all bagged for you?

RR: Oh, yes. The flour was all ready.

SF: Well, where would you store it?

RR: Upstairs, here, in the attic.

SF: That is a lot of flour.

RR: Yes! That is a lot of flour. But we had to have a lot of flour. They ate like good ones!

SF: And they were never hungry?

RR: No. Well, they were always hungry!

SF: O.K., how did you doctor your sick kids?

RR: Well, everybody thinks I'm crazy when I talk to people now days. We didn't know anything of antibiotics. The first thing I gave them was castoria. That was the first thing to keep their bowels open. And when they had cold we would grease them up with Vicks or make a mustard plaster.

SF: How did you make that?

RR: Mustard plaster? We would take 6 tablespoons of flour and 1 tablespoon of dry mustard and then make a paste of that and put it between two cloths and lay it on their chest. But we would have to watch it because it would burn them if we didn't.

SF: Why would it burn?

RR: The mustard does that. Mustard gets hot. And that is the way we took care of our kids. I know more of mine had a touch of pneumonia and they got over it that way.

SF: What did you do for cuts?

RR: Wrap them up!

SF: Did you have anything? Did you have iodine?

RR: Peroxide mostly and Mercurochrome was used.

SF: Did you ever have broken bones in the family?

RR: No. Only one boy broke his elbow. Rode a horse and fell off. He was five years old.

SF: Did you take him to a hospital then?

RR: No, we took him to the , well, my husband didn't think it was broke and he laid that night in a lot of pain and we took him up to Eureka to Dr. Wolff and he set it for us the next day.

SF: Then he had a cast?

RR: Yes.

SF: Who was it?

RR: That was John. He had more accidents.We had more accidents that happened on the farm. One boy got his hand in the combine auger and cut a finger loose. That was John, too. And Ted got his knee in the auger and cut his knee real bad. We'd take them to the hospital for that.

SF: You were never so far out that you couldn't get there.

RR: No, we always did that.

SF: What about dental work?

RR: Well, we went to Dr. Mohn mostly. And he is still doctoring.

SF: Did you have bottles of aspirin in your house or things like that?

RR: Not that I know of. Not years ago. The latter probably 30 years we've had aspirin.

SF: Yes. But when you first were married?

RR: No, we never knew what an aspirin was. We just took the headaches.

SF: Was there any other little remedies that you would use besides your mustard plasters that you can think of?

RR: Many times if it looked like the cuts were inflamed we would take garden vegetables and smash them up and put poultices on. And that really helped.

SF: What kind of vegetables?

RR: Beets. Beets greens worked best. Make a plaster and put it on. And sometimes we'd soak them.

SF: And that always seemed to work pretty good?

RR: Why sure it did. We never lost anybody. We doctored our own. My husband was from a large family and that's what they did and that's what he did too. He never got excited about when they were sick.

SF: I guess it doesn't help.

RR: No.

SF: Did you ever wish that you had pursued a career over and above that of a wife, mother or a homemaker?

RR: No. Never. I was very content with what I had. Never wanted to be anything else.

SF: Any advice you'd like to share with today's young Americans whose life styles are so very different from when you were a child?

RR: Well, the only thing I don't like is when a mother has to leave their children and put them by a baby sitter. Why not take care of them themselves.

SF: Maybe they could get by on a little less and stay home.

RR: Why, yes. I think so.

SF: Sometimes it is hard to tell people things like that.

RR: Yes. Everyone has their own ways. They got an education and they think they got to use it.

SF: I want to ask you one more thing here before my tape runs out and that was your ways of predicting the weather. I know that you always have something.

RR: Well, we don't know. We took the weather as it came.

SF: Like your birds. You always say that you see certain birds at certain times of the year.

RR: Well, swallows. When they come, they always came after the first thunderstorm. And they do yet in the spring after the first thunderstorm that's when the swallows come.

SF: I know you have talked about the color of the sky and all that kind of stuff. I know you have told me this.

RR: Well, when the storm are bad and they get black, we know there is a storm coming.

SF: What about a red sky at night?

RR: That means it is going to be windy. And if it is cloudy in the morning it usually always clears up at night. And if it is cloudy at night we can expect storm.

SF: I guess that is about all for this particular tape so, thanks Grandma!

Back to Rabenberg Home Page