2021 November 11 – Veterans Day

From the looks of things, we’ve got to join the army.
Uncle Sammy means to do just what he says.
It won’t be long before we’re in the trenches,
A-fighting for the dear old USA,
So when anything goes wrong,
We’ll sing this little song:

We’re in the army now.
We’re not behind a plow.
We’ll never get rich a-diggin’ a ditch.
We’re in the army now.
We’re in the army now.
Suppose you wonder how.
But don’t you fear. You’ll soon be here.
We’re in the army now.

Now you see the boys as they go marching by you,
In their uniforms and colors, they look grand.
To the tune of “Yankee Doodle he’s a dandy,”
They’re marching for the dear old Yankee land.
So when anything goes wrong,
We’ll sing this little song:

You’re in the Army Now is a totally different song about being in the military service.

ELASTIC WALLS below is continued from November the 6th


I was born in Southwestern Iowa .  My father had returned from being a Chaplain in WWII.  My mother and sister had been waiting for his return.  When I was about 18 months old Dad was assigned to the Methodist Church in Afton, Iowa.  I don’t have any memories until we moved to Afton.

My younger sister, Hazel, was born after we arrived in Afton. Betty was a teenage girl who attended our church and who  lived in the country. There was no School bus in her area.  Betty moved in with us, went to school, and helped mother. My older sister was  about 6 years old and mom now had two babies under 2. The help was greatly appreciated.

Betty became a part of our family. She is still part of our family. Dad even married Betty and Gerald in our living room. Mom baked the wedding cake.

We moved to Williamsburg. Iowa when I was three, going on four. This is when my memories  were beginning to gather.

My mother’s Uncle Jim came to live with us.  Time to rearrange. My older sister moved into the room with Hazel and me.  Dad’s office moved to Mary’s bedroom. Uncle Jim took Dad’s office on the first floor. I really have no idea how long he lived with us before he was moved to a nursing home. 

Being a parsonage family, we often had visiting missionaries, church choirs, and other speakers who stayed with us.   One Christmas, a young man from one of our former churches joined us for Christmas, because he couldn’t  make it home.  

Two of our regular visitors were  friends of Mom and Dad’s from their College days.  The White family included six kids.  Not only did we manage to sleep all, but we even managed to fit all 13 of us into one car for a sightseeing trip.  In those days we kids were smaller and cars were bigger.  One of our neighbors said we looked like a Keystone Cop movie when we all started to get out . She thought we’d never stop.

I well remember when the White family visited in Keosauqua, Iowa.  The Whites had been serving churches in Kansas but they had family in Illinois. So  for vacation, they traveled through Iowa on their way to visit family.  That year they were moving back to Illinois. From then on, we’d visit them on our vacations.  Anyway we were all getting bigger so finding places for everyone to sleep took more planning. Hazel and I slept on a mattress that had been stored in our parents walk-in closet. On the other side of one wall were two of the White boys, sleeping on the floor.  It was fun to knock back and forth on the wall.  I’m not sure where everyone slept.  It took a little planning but there was always a place.  

Another thing that made that year memorable, was that they were traveling with their dog.  When they were loading up for the last leg of their journey, Sandy the dog, refused to get in the car.  My mother jokingly said, “I guess you’ll have to leave him.” That was a mistake.  That was the day Sandy came to live with us.  

One of the choirs  that visited us there was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Not only were the guys cute (did i say we were getting older) they had manners we’d never seen before.  

We lived two more places while i was still at home. During that time, overnight visitors were common.

I’ll move on to 1965 when my first husband, Bill, and I were married. We were married on a Saturday afternoon and after the wedding we headed back to our apartment in Marshalltown, Iowa.  Sunday morning we went to church as usual. Later in the afternoon, Bill prepared to leave the following morning and head out to Alabama with his construction crew. I was staying put in Marshalltown.  One of his co-workers spent the night with ūs in our two room apartment. Remember this is the day after our wedding.

A few years later we were living in a larger apartment, which had two bedrooms. Í was preparing the room for Fall, when our baby would arrive.  We had two young men who were our age, so i don’t want to call them boys, living in the back half of our house. Their girlfriends had summer jobs in Marshalltown and it was too far to drive home late at night. We invited the girls to stay with us.  They were already back in school when our baby, Linnea, made her grand entrance,

The years move on and we moved to Des Moines. We bought a small two bedroom house and when baby John arrived, we put the kids in the same room.  However, Bill’s oldest sister, Chris, wasn’t able to work for a while so, she moved in with us. She took care of the kids so that I could go back to work.  We made up a bedroom in the basement with a blanket for a wall.  One Friday, Chris called me, see needed to go to the ER.  We ended up taking an ambulance ride to Iowa City that day. School was out so, his parents brought one of Bill’s sisters down to take care of the kids. His sisters took turns staying with us that summer.  The night of the ambulance ride was a night we will never forget. On the way home Bill’s parents had an accident and his mother was killed.

When John was about 3 we started looking for a larger house. We found a three bedroom with a finished basement.  It wasn’t long after we moved in, that we had to put in bunk beds. We moved the kids back together. Bill’s grandmother had arthritis and was having problems getting around. After she fell down her basement stairs, we didn’t feel it was safe for her to live alone with her family so far away.

Grandma Lass lived with us for 20 years.  I realize that I’m much older now than Grandma when she moved in with us.

I said we had a finished basement. We started working for Polk County Mental Health as a Family Life Home. We had individuals, that had been in the hospital or receiving care, living with us as family members.  This was so they had family around to talk with.  We had about 8 individuals that lived with us for varying times.  Our last difinately became a part of our family. Cindy, like any daughter, moved back home to live with us several times through the years. Cindy, like Betty, will always be a part of our family

We also had one of Bill’s sisters, Kathy, at one time.

After a few years, as the kids grew, we realized we needed more space.  We found a larger house on 29th Street in the Drake University neighborhood.

Grandma continued to live with us for a long time. Bill’s younger brother, Larry, also lived with us. I think Larry lived with us and worked at our service station for a number of years.  Larry and John sounded and acted more like brothers, than uncle and nephew.  Bill’s sister, Kathie, and her family lived with us for several months. His sister, Lorraine, and family also lived with for a while, until they bought their house. We even had a young man that rented our attic for a few months.  

We hosted a boy from Panama for 3 months, while he studied at a middle school.  A couple of years later we hosted a boy from Denmark. During that time we had temporary students from Mexico and Brazil.

To add to the fun, our neighbors bathroom developed problems, so we shared our bathroom with them.  At night we left the back door unlocked so the could get in.  We did end up loaning them our portapotty for those times when they didn’t want to go out at night.

©2021 Thomas E Williams

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