father was a medium-sized man with white hair and a little mustache….my
stepmother was a big robust woman, pretty near 6 feet, really broad and
husky….my own mother died when I was 4….They was a musical family on
that side. My brothers all played….I played the piano and I also
sang….But we didn’t have a piano in our home so I picked it up as I
went along….Singing was one of my things because if I couldn’t
remember a piece of poetry I’d put a tune to it and then I could
remember it. Then I got so
I’d translate it into a story you know. That was all because I
wasn’t going to school. I had to use my head for something….
father farmed over 200 acres….We were wheat farmers….about 14
cows….my job to churn the butter….and 9 big workhorses….Our house
was brick with a thatched roof….upstairs we had beds where 2 or 3
girls got into 1 bed….
had to stay out there and wash the diapers in that barrel….when it was
icy they froze over you know….but it didn’t matter how cold it
was….That was my job…..
was 8th of 19 children.) I had to try and help take care of
all of them….and keep the babies entertained ….so that was one thing
I wanted to leave home for….I couldn’t handle them all….
always come into my head for doin’ things at the right time….One day
my brother Fred said how was I getting along and I said not very
good….I didn’t want to be at home any longer….I wondered if he
would write to Mrs. Shelton (in a nearby town) and ask if she would
write home to my stepmother and ask for me….Then….well, maybe
Stepmother and Father would let me go. I was 11 then. (She never lived
at home again.)
got a little lonely that first week (as lady’s maid)….But something
happened. I had to eat my meals in a little tiny pantry….every morning
the little birds would come and set on my windowsill. So I’d hoist the
window up and put a few crumbs out there….They come every morning when
I was eating, those little birds did, and ate breakfast with me….those
little birds kept me company….
When we came to
Montreal….we saw a big iceberg sticking up….like a three-cornered
sheet, point down, and then sticking two points out into the air. So
huge you can’t imagine. And every time the water splashed up against
the iceberg, seems like it would freeze more and more and more. We
thought sure the boat would hit the iceberg, but it didn’t.
They managed to steer the boat away….
across the country I was all looking ahead, my mind was all looking
wasn’t hard to get a job. You told them you was just fresh out from
England, you’d be willing to do anything they wanted….And I wasn’t
particular about what I did….I’d have their baby out there in the
buggy and while I was watching the baby I’d stack the wood….
Island, Washington, 1920
I’d always wanted to be
either a dairyman’s wife or a breadman’s wife or something that
meant something, that they had to produce, so I thought I’d go and see
this dairy man who was working with the farm there.
And he liked me right away, and I kind of liked him but I
wasn’t quite sure….He could dance quite well….We danced the
Swedish polka and the Schottische and some waltzes….He wasn’t much
taller than me and people wondered where that little couple came from
all of a sudden….In a year or so we got married….And then, I had a
baby route (every day)….about 6 babies….I would go out in the
evening and wait table wherever they was having a dinner party. If I
didn’t wait table I cooked the dinner. Sometimes the work lasted till
1 o’clock in the morning….And they had no electricity….We both
took hard jobs when we thought we could make a go of it….My husband
had been working at that dairy for 11 years….He left Denmark when he
was 13 years old….He got on one of the ships as a stoker you know,
building the fires….His father had left when he was a little boy and
the mother raised the 7 children by herself.
lived in a house…with six steps up and on each step he had a little
tub of flowers….geraniums and sweet alyssum and they lit that whole
little place up….it was really a wonderful life being right by the
water (Puget Sound)….Then we always had chickens. And then we sold
eggs and people would like our eggs very much….Then we decided to have
our own dairy farm….we went on with 6 cows until we didn’t have
enough milk….because we kept getting new customers. They told each
other all along what wonderful milk we had. So we had to buy more cows
and more cows….And then the next trouble we had, the well went
dry….then someone came and offered us a 96-acre farm where there was
plenty of water….we built a new barn and a milk room and fixed the
water situation so that we could put down into the crick….Our sons,
John and Junior, helped feed the calves and whatever we had….they were
proud to be in the dairy….we sold a quart of milk with a half a pint
of cream on it for 10 cents….
Island, Washington, 1955
day in September in 1955 I was finishing my lunch and the phone rang and
it was Art Linkletter….He said, ‘The old woman who lived in a shoe,
what did she feed her children on?’ I said, ‘She gave them some
broth without any bread.’ He said, ‘Good. You have earned $55. That
was a start, as my husband and sons said I should go to England and see
my sisters whom I had not seen in 55 years….So they….put me on a
plane….It was wonderful to go bashin’ around in a strange country
all alone, ‘specially through London….(My sisters) didn’t see how
I could have come all that way and found the place and everything, and
grown up like that, all this time, see, 55 years….we visited the old
farm where we used to live….and they had homemade bread coming out of
the big brick oven….So it was much the same.
got back home (to Bainbridge Island) about 9 o’clock in the
morning….But there was one little bag I had in the taxi when I got out
to go and run for the ferry. Then someone came running up to the ferry
with a little bag for me. And I just thought, well, what a wonderful
country this was….”
Extract from "Far as I can remember; Minnie Rose Lovgreen's life story", courtesy of Nancy Rekow.