Helen Louise Pinney Perrine

recorded in 2003
Helen Charlotte Zimmerman

I was born March 28, 1913. I lived in Grandview, a suburb of Columbus. My parents were Mable Alice Pinney and Joseph B. Pinney. I had an adopted sister, Mary. I was also adopted, although somewhere during my growing up I forgot that fact.

I have these memories that must have had something to do with my adoption:

I was with a family named Post, a man and a lady, and I heard them have this discussion, and I heard him say, "If you are not willing to leave my possessions to her instead of your niece then I'm not going to adopt her." This place seemed like a nice estate. I had a feeling of luxury. I just have that impression. I was little, maybe three. I left there.

I remembered carrying a rocking chair up some stairs to a landing, and when I asked my mother about it she said we used to live there but I don't think we did. It was an apartment. (This was not at the Post home.)

Joe and Mabel Pinney

Then I remember later, after I was with Mom and Dad, that one day a lady came for me and took me for a ride in an electric automobile and gave me a doughboy paper helmet. She lived in a residential hotel. We went to eat in the building. The dining room was huge.

I have another memory when I was in high school and walking home for lunch and a car pulled up and a lady called to me and I went over and she said, "Do you live at the Pinneys?" and I said, "Yes." Then she drove away. I am sure that it was Mrs. Post.

I was coming home from the University on the streetcar and sat down by this elderly gentleman and he said, "You're the little girl that lives at the Pinneys aren't you? I remember when you came to live with them. You were so high," and he put out his hand to show. I didn't say anything. I was crushed. I went home and never said anything.

I must have acted strange so my mom asked me what was wrong. I heard her say to my dad, "I think she knows." Then I came out and said that this gentleman had talked to me and it was the funniest thing. I didn't question at that time who my parents were, I wasn't interested, but when I suffered the worst it was when I found out my relatives weren't my relatives.

The truth was hard for them to tell. I did have a nagging thought that my father's brother might be my father. Over the years he had only been to our house three times. Oddly, I was never there. Dad always said that he was the black sheep of the family. I never spoke my thoughts and soon ceased to care. My life was satisfactory.

There was nothing wrong with my parents and I adored my sister. I knew Mary was adopted because I asked for her and went to the Children's Home to pick her up. She was a gift I never tired of.

Helen Louise and Mary

One reason that I wanted a sister was that I wasn't allowed to play with boys. I had to come home if a little boy came. My dad remembered how nasty little boys could be.

Some family history

My mother's father was the first to line the ground with concrete to bury caskets. His name was Aaron Bentzel. My dad's father had the first silo in Ohio. Grandfather Pinney was also the first to drive a herd of Jersey cattle west of the Allegheny Mountains. He drove them from Simsbury, Connecticut to Worthington, Ohio.

Mabel with the Red Cross


I remember that I was with my mother in the kitchen when all the church bells began to ring and she knew World War I was over. First she laughed, then cried and hugged me. She had been a Red Cross nurse.

I remember riding in a car with Mom and Dad and I heard Dad mention a big number about the preacher's salary, and I wondered why he wanted that much celery.

The car we had was a four‑door Buick touring car. The sides were open, but we had sidepieces, which we snapped on when it rained, that had windows made of isinglass, that you could see through, set in the framework. It was on display at the Ohio State Fair. I must have been five or six. It was after WWI.

I remember I was standing up with my arms on the seat in front of me. I think it was a Buick touring car. My parents didn't have a garage. They had to park it a block away in a garage they rented.

1322 Wyandotte Rd.

Our house was on Wyandotte Road. When I was little it was 1184 and later when I was in high school it was changed to 1322. The telephone number was Kingswood 1071.

Wyandotte Road was re‑tarred once a year. I was almost four when I joined the bigger kids in a tradition that was an annual affair. You poked two fingers into a fresh puddle of tar, scooped it into your mouth, and chewed it like gum.

Helen Louise as a Wyandotte chicken

Wyandotte Road was in Grandview Heights. I don't remember this, but I was told that at one of the Independence Day celebrations that they held every year, they had a street competition. We were the Wyandotte chickens. It must have been hilarious though. The baby chicks were quite cute. I have a picture to prove it. Our mother's made our costumes. I'm not sure that we received a prize.

Mother had a laundress

Mother had a laundress when I was very young. As soon as I was big enough I was allowed to run to the corner after she got off the streetcar. Her name was Florence and she never failed to give me a hug. Often she was carrying a bag of collard or dandelion greens. She was the only colored person that I knew and I loved her very much. I would proudly help her line the garments she had carefully turned inside out on the green grass or bush so a stain would be drawn by the sun to the other side of the material where it wouldn't show. We would also spread out the towels upside down.

Mother had a housekeeper

We had a housekeeper who lived with us and I remember a time when Mother and Dad were gone in the evening and I wanted her to read me a story and she got tired of reading the same story. I had a hard time finding a book she would read. When I finally found a book that pleased her I climbed up onto her lap. I was dressed for bed. I vaguely remember feeling a blanket being pulled up to my chin and heard her thanking God as she turned off the light. I sleepily wondered why she sounded so angry when she talked to God.

She had Thursdays off. You stayed home on Thursday nights so people wouldn't think you were a maid. Being a part time nanny was more than she could handle. After a hectic afternoon she and mother agreed that she leave. Mother had come home to find me screaming with an earache. When Mother found out that I had been screaming for a couple of hours she was furious that she hadn't been called immediately.

Helen Louise (center) dressed as Little Miss Muffet for Field Day parade

We had several maids over the years. The maid we had for the most years was named Rose. My mother wanted me to help Rose one night. I did. I had to wipe the dishes but when it came to the pans, I refused because my mother had said, "Help with the dishes." I guess I was a snotty little kid.

I remember a conversation Rose had on the telephone. I heard her criticize my mother's hair, and I was furious but Rose was a pretty nice person. I overheard another conversation she had with her sister. Her sister had had a baby that came out in pieces because her husband had given her syphilis. I was horrified. I don't think I even knew babies came out from your body.

My jobs

Mother would let me put the sign in the front window that would tell the iceman how much she wanted. When I became older, I would listen for the clippety clop of the horses' hooves and run out to the wagon. The iceman would always chip off a small sliver so I could suck on it. Then he would pick up his tongs, grab a chunk with it and we would walk to our kitchen where I would hold open the door of the icebox for him.

After Rose left, it was my daily duty to empty the pan under the icebox. Several times I was in deep trouble because I forgot about it and the melted water spread all over the kitchen.

The Neighborhood

The Castoe family lived next to us on the right. The mother had to use a walker to get around. A grandmother kept the home going. There was an aunt, three children and a father. Each time it stormed the first sound of thunder would send the aunt into the nearest closet. If it happened to be on our side of the house we could hear the door bang shut.

Helpful me told her she shouldn't be afraid of thunder because if you heard it you knew you hadn't been struck by lightning because it always came first. I don't remember who told me that but it made sense to me. She didn't seem very impressed and I think she almost laughed. The door banging didn't stop. Some time later, I was told that thunder was caused by two clouds hitting head on. Actually I never did know if that was true.

Mary Catherine and Ruth Anne Castoe were quite a bit older than their little brother. Mrs. Castoe was a devout Catholic and she was sure that having a third child would earn her the chance to walk again, but it didn't happen. Grandmother Castoe wasn't exactly pleased, but she loved the baby.

The girls went to convent school. Once Mary and I were there, I can't remember why. The nuns in their habits looked very mysterious, my curiosity was aroused and for days I was asking questions. I still have a fit of laughter when I think of the answer to one.

I was just passing their house when the girls came out the door. They said they were on the way to confession. I asked where and what it was. Mary Catherine explained that in the church there was a small closet that had an un‑glassed window. On the other side of it was another closet. They would go in one at a time and tell their sins to a priest, who was on the other side, but below the opening so he couldn't see them. When they had told their sins, he would forgive them.

Ruth Anne was two or three years younger. I asked her what she was going to confess. She very brightly replied, "Oh! Mary Catherine will tell me what to say." That stopped me cold. No more questions, ever! Throughout my high school years, I kept Mrs. Castoe supplied with books from the library.

The Kuechles

The Kuechles lived on the other side of us. I had contact on and off with the two boys, Roland and Keith. I seldom saw their, much older, sister Marcella, but I loved to hear her play the violin. One time when I made a visit to Columbus, I read that she had joined a well known, all girls, orchestra and was traveling around the country.

Mr. Kuechle never lived down the fact that during WWI he irritated the neighbors because every night, while returning from work, he read a German newspaper on the streetcar.

His domination of his wife was so apparent that, for the most part, the neighbors stayed away. As I remember, she was very sweet.

Dad spent hours working in our front and back yards and it showed. He was always puttering outside. Keith Keuchle, when he was three years old, loved to follow Dad around the yard. One Saturday the doorbell rang. It was Keith and he asked, "Can Mr. Pinney come out to play?"

I seldom saw the Castoes or the Kuechles after I left home.

The McClouds

The McClouds, who were family friends, lived three houses to our right. They had a son named Malcolm. Sometimes on Saturday Dad would drop mother and me off at the Findley Street Market. Mother would be carrying a huge basket. Later, she would put me, and the well-filled basket on a streetcar going to Grandview. The conductor was instructed to put me off at Wyandotte Road. Malcolm would be waiting on the corner. He would grab the basket, help me off, and see that his charges were delivered safely to Rose.

Blanche, Malcolm's sister, was a diabetic. One day she was home alone. She called the drugstore and asked that a box of chocolates be delivered. She ate them all and went into a coma and didn't survive. It was very sad.

Sometime later, her mother gave me her tea set. After Mary came, it was used a lot. Our guests would arrive wearing hats and gloves and we had conversations while we sipped our tea (hot chocolate). We discussed babies, and things that happened, just like we were grown‑up mothers. My daughter Amy's daughter, Elaine, has the tea set now.

The parrot

We used to have people up the street who had a parrot. The parrot called out "Helen Louise your mother wants you." I'd come home and my mother hadn't called me. I don't remember who did this. I was the only Helen Louise around. I fell for that a lot of times.

My favorite pastime before Mary was I would sit on my front sidewalk and confront people. "Where are you going?" "When are you coming back?"

I went to school

I went to school before we had Mary. When I was in the first grade my mother was called to school. The teacher wanted to talk to her about my reading. My mother was surprised there was a problem. Each group was called a bird's name. My mother asked what the top class was called. The teacher said, "Redbird." My mother said, "Put her in the Redbird group and she will read." I did.

My father and I were in a school program
Remember the picture of my father dressed up in a bridesmaid dress? Before we got Mary I took elocution lessons and performed at the grade school. Dad was part of the whole program. He was in a stage play that the adults put on. The fathers had a wedding and my dad was a bridesmaid.

I recited a piece on the stage at the school auditorium. It runs through my mind that I said, "Here I stand on my two little feet, make my bow and take my seat."

Getting dressed for school before and after Mary

When the time came that I must do it myself, getting dressed for school on a cold winter morning in the early 1920s was a struggle. First came the long underwear with a buttoned drop seat; then a sleeveless pantywaist that buttoned down the front. It had tabs for you to hook your stocking supporters. Stockings had to be put on very carefully. There should not be a hint of anything under them but legs. Black sateen (a cotton cloth made to resemble satin) bloomers and a white flannel petticoat came next. By then I was ready to sit down and button up my high topped shoes. I breathed a sigh of relief when I had finally donned my blue serge skirt and middy blouse.

When I went out the door in the winter I had added mittens that were fastened to a cord that was threaded through the sleeves of a heavy coat, plus a scarf and knitted hat. In spite of all that I made it to school!

My struggles didn't last forever. Mother heard of a wonderful child specialist and we were soon under his care. "Madame," he said. "You are dressing your children for the outside and they are spending most of their time on the inside." Off came the long underwear and the flannel petticoat and fashion, in time, changed the shoes.

Unexpected remembering

One evening recently, I asked Hal for a simple favor. BINGO! I had a flash back of 84 years. Two small girls, Mary Kay Stukey and Helen Louise Pinney were standing, facing each other, half way between their two houses‑debating whether you had an itch and you scratched it or you had a scratch and you itched it. Eyes were flashing, hands waving, each trying to out loud the other. The favor? "Honey will you scratch my back?"

When I finished putting the period under the question mark­ - BINGO - another memory!

Two Christmases in a row I picked jewelry as a gift for my mother. It was a deliberate choice. I planned to ask her to let me wear it. She did gladly. The third year jewelry was a no‑no, because by that time I realized that the only time she wore what I gave her on Christmas day.

Vacation before Mary

Mom, Dad and I and Uncle Reg and Aunt Hattie, my mother's oldest sister, spent a couple of weeks at Cold Water Lake. We have a picture from this trip in an album at Susan's house. We had rented a cottage. One day I was dressed in my Sunday best. I don't remember why. I decided to walk down to the lake. Fortunately my father followed me. I walked down this long dock and suddenly I was in the water. My Dad fished me out.

On the way back we passed my uncle and he asked, "What happened Helen Louise?"

"Oh," I said, "I just ran out of dock." This was a saying that went down through the ages when things unexpectedly went wrong.

More memories before Mary

My mother's aunt was watching me one time when my parents were gone. I went to school in a pretty yellow dress with matching bloomers. On our school playground was a high slide that curled around. I went off it into a mud puddle and had to walk all the way home like that. My aunt wasn't exactly happy to see me like that.

Mother and I attended a mother and daughter banquet held in the basement of the old First Community Church on Lincoln Avenue. (My baptismal picture was hanging on one of the poles for several years.) I was delighted when we found our seats and there was a white tissue box at my place. I could hardly wait to get it opened. Inside was a string of pearls. I can't remember if my mother received a gift.

Dad's presents

I have blurred memories of my father being away from home. Mother would say he was on a business trip. I could hardly wait to see what he would bring me.

He would bring mother pieces of her silver set. It was Fairfax and it had the initial P printed on it. About fifteen years ago, Jo bought the set from me.

Five times in a row he brought mother a beautiful piece of cut glass in the pineapple pattern. She was always delighted. I remember her laughing and saying, "No more! This one takes up the last space on the buffet."

Eventually I was entrusted and expected to keep it gleaming. I was a little tearful the last time that I washed it. After Dad's death, it was again in my care. Mary's obligation was the Haveland china.

Before moving to Phoenix, I asked first, Jo to choose a piece for future possession, then Amy and third, Susan. Bonnie was last and she didn't get to choose but she would receive the two remaining pieces.

Thirty‑two years later, after our arrival in Lexington, the girls received the pieces that they were promised.

My first formal dinner party

All week I looked forward to going to dinner at my Aunt Julia and Uncle Mack Karshners' house. I was to be the only child and I didn't even go to school yet! I had to dress up, remember that I was to be quiet at a grown‑up party. I must say "please" and "thank you" and answer politely if spoken to. I was quite pleased with myself sitting on the top of two phone books, entranced with the beautiful table and all the smiling faces.

First came the soup. I remember that I liked the taste of it but I liked the looking and listening better. Suddenly, when I had sipped only three spoonfuls, there was a salad before me. Then, like magic, after a bite or two I found myself looking at meat and potatoes. Looking and listening was still more important than eating... besides, they never gave me enough time. Dessert came, hunger took over and I bolted it down expecting it to be whisked away at any minute.

Dinners were always served that way at the Karshners and I soon learned to take them in my stride. Aunt Julia was my father's middle sister. In later years their life style changed. They sold their house in Columbus and moved north of Worthington.

The tomato plant story

The day was hot. I was bouncing a ball off the side of our newly built garage. It was a pastime that boys seemed to like. I had just been at my friend Jane's house and two boys came over. I had just left them banging away at Jane's. I had to come home because I wasn't allowed to play with the boys.

Mother was chatting over the back fence with Mary Helen Pletcher' s mother. I perked up my ears when they began speaking of a lady on the next street, who because of her age, couldn't get out much. She had no children to visit her and she was very lonely. I was lonely too, and since I was a child, I felt it my duty to pay her a visit.

Mother gave me her permission and I was soon on my way. I think she must have called the lady because she opened the door the instant that I knocked and invited me in before I said a word. I was surprised that she was so old.

She suggested that I sit down and have some chocolate milk and a piece of cake. She brought out some gingerbread. I thought it was the best I had ever eaten and I ate two pieces.

Her living room was furnished with antiques which, I thought, were very old fashioned. In front of a window, she had a plant stand with a healthy looking tomato plant sitting on it. I asked her why she had a tomato growing in her house. Ours were out in our back yard.

She said that it reminded her of the happy days when she was young and lived at home with her family. She told me it used to be fashionable to have one in the parlor. They were for decoration then because it was thought that they were poisonous.

I looked closer and decided that the clusters of small tomatoes were rather pretty. Every once in a while I have wondered when and who decided it was okay to eat tomatoes.

After she had heard all the tales of what was going on in the neighborhood, I went home feeling very pleased with myself. She invited me to come back but I can't remember doing so.

A story that began before Mary and ended after

Because of Maido Shore, a neighbor, my life made a change for the better. She lived about six houses away from us. I think she lived with her ageing parents. She was one of my victims when I was questioning all the people passing by when I was about four years old.

She stopped to talk to me on her way to work and again when she came back at night. I began walking home with her each day. Before long I was invited to come inside. Soon I was going in a couple of times a week. We became good friends. I could tell her anything and she always seemed glad to listen.

After about a year I stopped my daily walks but still paid her visits a couple times a month. I could ask her about anything that bothered me. She never failed to help me out.

One day, I must have been about six and a half, I mentioned to her that sometimes I was lonely because a boy would come when we were playing and I would have to go home. She said it was too bad that I didn't have a sister to play with. I thought a sister was a good idea and said, "Well I'll ask my mother to get me one."

She laughed and said, "You couldn't play with a brand new sister for a long time because she would be a baby."

I said, "I'm sure my mother will get me one I can play with if I ask her." Maido smiled.

Thank goodness my mother did!

I think Maido must have been a role model for me. Being a grownup friend has given me so much pleasure all through my growing up years.

Getting Mary

I didn't have to beg or coax for a sister. It took me two days to plan what I would say. At the end of my first sentence they agreed that it was a good idea. Looking back, I realize that they had been planning to do so but hadn't figured out how to approach me and get my approval.

Dad explained that it would take time before they found a little girl who wanted a mother and father like I wanted a sister. They would tell her that she would have a big sister named Helen Louise. He reminded me that if she wanted us we would have to do our best to make her feel wanted and be glad she came to live with us.

I am vague about the length of time it took to find the right little girl. I was so excited the morning they told me that after dinner that night our wait would be over. I spent the day telling the good news to all of our neighbors.

I didn't know where we were going when we climbed into the car, but I did know we would bring back a sister for me. We would call her Mary. She was five years old and had dark curly hair.

I remember nothing about the building we entered except for a large homey type room. A woman called the matron welcomed us.

There were three young girls with her that she said were sisters. The middle one had brown curly hair. I knew without being told that she was the one I wanted.

We were not there very long. Mary seemed to know Mom and Dad. When I took her hand and started for the door, the oldest girls said, "Now be good Irene." There were no tears. Mary never looked back. I have always wished that I had paid attention to the other girls. I have no idea what they looked like. The youngest was a toddler.

Before mother had us ready for bed I showed Mary the room we would share and offered her the choice of any of my dolls. I was surprised at her choice. She picked up the one I called Grumpy. Grumpy was my security blanket. I heard mother draw in her breath. All through the years I have been glad that I didn't object. I almost did.

Except for suddenly kicking me out of the bed when I was half asleep, Mary never showed any resentment of being taken away from her siblings. From that time on it seemed we had always belonged to each other. Another story that began before Mary and ended after.

When I was five, Mom, Dad and I spent the weekend in the home of our friends the Willoughbys. They had a daughter named Ruth. Actually we were dog sitting because they didn't want to leave it with a vet.

Saturday after dinner I decided to explore the back yard. The porch was quite high. Before I went down the steps I looked over the fence and saw a boy about my age throwing a ball against the house. I strolled his way singing a WWI song: "K... K... K... Katy, beautiful Katy won't you come out the K... K... K... kitchen door?" We talked until I was called in.

Seven years later I attended sixth grade in the Harding Building (the old high school). One morning we had a new student. For some reason I had never taken more than a quick look at him.

Suddenly in the afternoon we heard the bell for a fire drill. Classes on the top floor had to go down the outside fire escape. Halfway down to my horror I heard, "Didn't you use to sing K... K... Katy?" I nearly dropped dead. To be truthful I wished I would. By then I knew for sure that I was no singer. From that day on if he went one way I did my best to go the other.

One thing I was happy to leave behind

When my next‑door neighbor, Roland Keuchle was between two and three years old, I became his favorite to follow around. He tried so hard to say Helen Louise but it always came out sounding like 'Henoo'. Everyone but me thought it was pretty cute. Soon it was shortened to Hen, which I thought was worse. Until I left my home, to family and friends that was my nickname. Hal promised me he would not speak of it and he didn't. However, until they died, Mom and Dad, Mary and my brother‑in‑law Henry would occasionally let it slip out.

One day when Roland was five and I was seven, I think it was the day before we were going to be able to get me a sister, I was sitting on our back steps eating a sandwich. Roland came out his back door and reproachfully said, "My mother says it isn't polite to eat in front of people."

I snapped, "My mother told me I could eat here and I am. Go in your house where you won't have to see me!" That was that! I won the battle. He did as I said.


When Mary and I were first together, and she hadn't been there very long, Dad had gone squirrel hunting and brought some home. Mary dressed one in doll clothes and pushed it in the carriage. She'd pick it up and hold it. My mother thought it was acceptable behavior. I disgustedly disagreed and suddenly remembered I had to tell Lucille Massie, a playmate, something important. I said, "Tonight no part of that squirrel is allowed on my dinner plate!"

Mary's birthday party

Early in March we began talking about a birthday party for Mary. I explained that she could invite friends from school, Mother would plan games, she would have to blow out candles on her cake, we would have ice cream and everyone would bring her a present. It sounded good to her and she could hardly wait.

The big day came, everything went well and it was time for her to open gifts. We all gathered around to watch. When she held up her sixth strand of beads, I gasped, "I can't believe that everyone has brought you beads!" One guest piped up, "She told us to." I was slightly embarrassed but secretly I admired her. I never would have had the nerve. Mother didn't spoil her day but she later explained that it wasn't proper to tell people what to give you for gifts unless they ask.

My birthday party

Two years later, it was my turn. It began in an unusual way. Dad took Mary and I out of the way so mother could give all her attention to getting things ready. He promised to have us back by two o'clock. I think we went to his sister Anne's.

By the time we got back, all but one of the guests had arrived and everyone was waiting on the porch. Mother suggested we wait until Lucille came to go into the living room. Our porch was screened in and had a comfortable setting. Her arrival after Mary and I came home had been planned.

We were in for a big surprise. Each of us was given a thread spool attached to a string. We were to follow the string, winding as we walked. We went hither and yon, up and down stairs, in and out doors. At the end of each string was a present.

Its funny but I can't remember another thing about that party. At that time September first was thought to be my birthday.

Lucille's little brother, Nappy, gave his cat a bath. His mother walked in on him just as he was putting it into the dryer.

Lucille and I were never close again after we had a heated spat the day before we left for a vacation at Lake James. When I returned, nothing was ever said, but there seemed to be an invisible wall keeping us apart. We still traveled in the same circle, but were always apart. It was a queer feeling. I paid dearly for my moment of righteous indignation, a lesson learned and a never forgotten mistake. I wish it had never happened.

Lucille's brother, Fred, visited us once while we lived on Pendery Avenue in Cincinnati. By that time Lucille was happily married and had a child.

Annual Circus Day

For a number of summers during our grade school years, all children in that age bracket who lived on Wyandotte Road were taken free of charge to the Shriner's Circus. We gathered in the park at the end of our street and we were loaded into cars. Once I rode in the back end of a truck.

We were driven cavalcade style all the way to the circus ground. How important we felt! We knew we were the luckiest kids in town. As we watched big eyed at the three rings, we each had our own bag of popcorn. Only once did we have cotton candy. We each came home with a balloon.

Games we played

We used to play stone school. If I were the teacher, I'd have three or four students on the bottom step. I would have a stone behind my back in my hands. I put my hands out and they would have to guess which hand it was in and then they got to advance if they were right. The one who got to the top first was the teacher.

We used to play tabby on the icebox. Somebody would stand by the light post outside with their eyes shut and count to fifty while everyone else would scatter. Everyone had to get back to the light pole without being touched by the one who was "it". When we wanted to stop the game we called, "Allee‑allee ox in free."

We also played statue. We'd take hold of somebody's hand, whirl them around and let them loose. However they were standing when you were let go, they had to freeze that way. Whoever could hold position longest would be the one who got to swing them around.

At boy and girl parties, which we were allowed to attend, we played Spin the Bottle, Three Deep, Farmer in the Dell, Drop the Handkerchief, Musical Chairs, Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Blind Man's Bluff.

Costumes and plays at Jane Hall's house

One memorable pastime during grade school days was that the kids on the block would gather afternoons at Jane Hall's house. Her mother never took much note of us. It was rumored that she suffered a nervous breakdown. I realize now that she was manic/depressive. However, she collected dress up clothes for us and we had plenty of costumes for the plays we put on ‑ a new one every day. We had passionate plays. The hero was always named 'Reggie Van Fleet' and girls played all the roles for males. We never had an audience and made up the plot as we went along. It was fun and we felt very creative. Time spent with Jane dwindled after we went to school in separate buildings.

My aunt babysat

Once when my aunt was watching us while my parents were gone. Roland and Keith and Phyllis Keuchle were playing going under the hose and wanted us to come over. My aunt said, "Sure." We got on our bathing suits and had a great time. Mom and Dad were mad because the boys were there.


I don't remember much about food. I ate everything except liver and brains. My mother used to scramble eggs with brains and told me they were sweet breads (glands).

Occasionally, Mother would ask a lady from the area called Little Italy to come to our house and make spaghetti sauce.

At our house, desserts, which looked like pieces of fruit, were often served for the last course at formal dinner parties. They were made of sherbet or ice cream, realistically sized, shaped and colored. They looked very elegant on a plate with a doily.

They were purchased at an ice cream factory, individually wrapped and packed in dry ice. I remember peaches, pears and apples, but I believe there were six kinds. Today, I haven't the faintest idea how they tasted. I only know everyone seemed to like them.

Mary and I were never invited guests. Somehow there were always two left over and someone had to eat them! Us. I believe that the last time I ate one or even saw one was in the early 1920's. I wonder if they make them anymore?

Tacoma Washington Trip

After Mother and I took a trip out to Tacoma, Washington, ‑ I didn't know it at the time but according to Mary, Mom and Dad had some sort of disagreement ‑ Mother got a diamond ring from Dad. That may have been why she took the trip.

Mother and I took the train to visit her sister Mary in Tacoma. While we were gone, my sister Mary went to stay with cousin Glenna.

We had a rule at our house that we girls went to bed at 7:00. Even though no one else could get on the train, the porter let us on so I could go to bed at 7:00. There was no one but us on the train and I still had to go to bed at 7:00. I thought the train was moving when another train actually passed us. I don't know when our train left. We went part way through Canada.

My mother had made me two taffeta dresses to wear. Somehow or other the dresses split and I didn't have anything to wear because our trunk was put on another train. Somehow the trains connected and they stopped the train and I had clothes again. I can still remember pulling out one of the drawers in our trunk.

There was a magician on the train and he pulled pennies out of my ear.

In my dresser drawer I have a little basket with a lid that I got at one of the stops along the way. There was another stop where we could walk
around but I didn't want to, I wanted to go to the dining room. Mother tried to talk me out of it but I wouldn't budge so we sat in the dining car and I watched Indians walking around out there. I think it was a place called Moose Jaw in Canada. I learned a valuable lesson. I should have listened to my mother. I was sorry that I was not out there.

Lake Louise, British Columbia

On the way to Tacoma, we stopped at Lake Louise in British Columbia. They had a telescope out on the porch of the lodge. We took a walk up on a mountain and went into a restaurant. I was real anxious to get there. I was tired and lay down on the leather seat. I had ordered cocoa and doughnuts and I was disappointed because the doughnuts were so tiny.

The lodge where we were staying faced a long stretch of beach. Mother was playing cards on the veranda. She allowed me to go wading but only on the very edge of the lake. She suggested I leave my shoes and socks with her.

I enjoyed walking all by myself with the water lapping over my feet. It was so peaceful until a sudden powerful gust of wind sent a high wave over me. I screamed and started to race away from the shore. Mother nearly fell down the steps trying to get to me.

We went to Vancouver to Seattle by boat. It was a day trip. I remember I was very uncomfortable on that trip because I had a bottle of gin in my coat. I think there was prohibition then.

While we were in Seattle, we went on board the battleship Texas. We were part of a tour group. After shaking hands with the Captain, we explored the ship. We saw the huge cannons. A sailor helped me up and down the ladders so we could see the rest of the ship. I was amazed at the sight of so many rows of hammocks hanging in the ship's sickbay. I felt sorry that the sick men couldn't have a bed.

Years later my father took the same tour of the Texas while it was in Boston Harbor. He was in Boston to receive an award for being the U.S.A. salesman who sold the most life insurance for John Hancock that year. I think he received a substantial check.

Fourth of July in Seattle

I remember around the 4th of July in Seattle we were in a big stadium facing the water and there were fireworks. We saw the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria in fireworks in the sky. It was spectacular. When we were at my Aunts and Uncles we went salmon fishing. They would bait these hooks on lines and trail behind the boat. A bell would ring when one was caught and we would haul in the fish.

All my cousins were older and had children of their own. I don't know if my uncle was kidding me but he told me that there were king salmon and queen salmon. I was convinced I could tell the difference. I always meant to look that up.

I remembered it rained part of each day the whole time we were there. One day I was out walking and saw a bunch of old sweet peas that looked too good to throw away. I gave them to a neighbor and she took them graciously.

I get homesick

We went to a big theatre one night and when we came out I looked down at the floor and saw some black and white patterned carpeting just like carpeting we had in our house back home. My homesickness broke out and we came home before my mother intended.

We stopped in Chicago on the way home and went to Marshall Fields and bought a good size doll's trunk and I got a doll that I named Phoebe. She had a china head and eyes that closed. She must have been about eighteen inches with a hard body that was jointed at the wrists, elbows and shoulders.

We bought a matching trunk for Mary. I can't remember about the doll but I'm sure there was one.

Our Canadian Vacation

During our grade school years one summer Mary and I were quite excited. We were going to camp in a foreign country! We were going to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Niagara Falls, on the way.

Crossing the border into Canada made us feel very important. The forest‑like park was cool and restful and we enjoyed our stay. Within walking distance, there was a group of (I now believe they must have been college students) boys and girls, all dressed in white flowing robes. We thought that they were dressed like Jesus. A group of them passed by and one of the girls handed me a flower and said, "This represents love." I thought it was kind of weird. I had never heard of anything like them in the United States. Later I found out that the cult was wide spread in our country.

Summer camp

Two summers I went to a Methodist church camp called Indianola. Mary never wanted to go. The camp was for two weeks at a time. It had cabins. We had plays and I can remember taking a spoon and banging on the table and singing, "Little Tommy Tucker sang for his supper. And then began to cry. Ma oh Ma poor little innocent guy". When we sang 'Ma' both times we stood up and sat back down. It made no sense but I loved doing that. I always liked people, you know. I was past twelve.

A local girl who was a cabin mate invited me to go to church with her. Her parents picked us up. The church was a white clapboard building, something like a one room schoolhouse with pews. I was not at all prepared for such an emotional service. Suddenly there were people of all ages rolling on the floor. A woman in front of me was spouting words I couldn't understand. (I had never heard of speaking in tongues.) I was uncomfortable, as I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I closed my eyes, bowed my head and sat with my hands clasped until the minister gave the benediction.

Everyone left in a normal manner and began socializing when they were outside. I was still clutching the quarter I was going to put in the collection plate. I couldn't remember if I had even seen one. How could I with my eyes closed?

I had another day the next year at camp that I wasn't crazy about. We were on a nature walk gazing at every plant, insect, snake and small animal that was pointed out to us. The first half hour was really great.

I knew I was in trouble the moment we approached a deep ravine with a wide span of water running through it. I was staring at a narrow, lengthy, swinging bridge swaying in the breeze. It had a shoulder high single rope railing to hold on to. Kids younger than I were merrily tripping over it, deliberately making it swing back and forth. Nothing could possibly be worse for me to do.

Everyone behind was urging me to get going. After four or five steps I froze, dropped to my knees and with my eyes tight shut I barely held on. Two teenaged boys quickly came to my rescue. When we got to the other side my eyes were still shut. Needless to say, I wasn't a popular camper. Everyone was unnerved and refused to go back over that bridge so we by­passed it and walked at least two extra miles. We missed our before lunch swim. Next year I opted to stay home.

Vacation at Aunt Hattie's

One summer Mary and I visited Aunt Hattie and Uncle Reg while Vacation Bible School was in session. We attended with the girl who lived on the next corner. I remember weaving a basket.

On our way home we would always buy a good‑sized lollipop in the shape of a bear on a stick for a nickel. Mine was grape. For some reason I fancied a purple tongue.

The last day we stopped at the girl's house and I felt insulted because she took a drink before offering one to us. Mother was a stickler for good manners.

I get my first period while at Aunt Hattie's house

One morning, during my twelfth year, I woke up in Aunt Hattie's guest bedroom. I began yelling at the top of my lungs for my mother. She came rushing up the steps. My menstrual period had started and I didn't know what it was.

Before the day was over Mother and Aunt Hattie explained to me that several days each month, when I had my period, I wasn't to take a tub bath or wash my hair. They explained that, when one of their friends hadn't listened to her mother about this, she died with TB.

Unfortunately, my senior class picture was scheduled while I had my period and I couldn't wash my hair. My hair was styled in the beauty shop on Grandview Avenue. All that goop on dirty hair did nothing for me. I always hated how I looked in that picture but I was proud of the dress mother designed and made for me.

That taboo became a thing of the past during my first quarter of college. We learned, in our girl's hygiene class, that there was nothing wrong with tub baths or washing hair at that time. I heard many girls sigh with relief on hearing this!

I was startled the morning that I learned, for the first time, what a nude male body looked like. When the teacher held up the super large picture, only about half of us would look at it.

Grandmother Bentzel

Mary and I would make it our business to spend time with our grandmother each day when she came to visit us. We enjoyed being hostesses; besides, we really liked her. Grandmother Bentzel was top on my list of favorite people. She was the only person that ever told me that I was pretty.

Quite often, we played a box game or Old Maid. We made it a point that she win, at least, one game. I'm sure we were so obvious that she laughed in her sleeve. Before we went our separate ways, we could each choose a piece of candy out of a five‑pound box Dad kept us supplied with. It was a one time daily treat.

One summer there was a special event. Our grandmother, Sarah Yates Benzyl's family was having a reunion in a park in Dayton, Ohio. People by the name of Yates would be coming from far away places. There was nothing I liked better than meeting new relatives.

Mary and I came home a little puzzled. We never quite figured out who was who. I wouldn't have minded meeting one fourteen‑year‑old Indiana boy again.

I remember that my mother and her sisters, Hattie, Irene and Mary, were very upset when she went to live in the Masonic Home in Springfield, Ohio. She was very happy there and soon found a way to make herself useful. She would get up early in the morning to pack lunches for the school children that lived in the adjoining orphanage. I never went into that area so I know nothing about it.

Grandma must have been well regarded by the Masonic Temple. One year we were able to go with her and enjoy the annual Christmas party the lodge held at the home. Mary and I pushed her wheelchair. She received more gifts than anybody else. We smiled so proudly when Santa called her name and rushed in turn to get the package for her.

When she had a cataract removed we went to the hospital to see her. She was flat on her back with sandbags on each side of her neck so her head wouldn't move. She had to hold that position for several days. Thank goodness I didn't have to go through anything like that!

The last time my mother and her sisters were together, they spent the day at our house making a shroud for their mother. The front of the dress was much longer than the back so that it would cover her feet and be tucked under them. That was years before it was needed. My Aunt Mary returned to Tacoma, Washington the next day. She had been visiting Aunt Hattie in Springfield. We have pictures of that family get‑together.

Sunday drives

We girls looked forward to Sunday drives in the country. Many times we had a particular destination. There was a sparkling clear water spring where my mother would gather watercress for salads and a woodland spot where mushrooms grew. My favorites were the sponge kind: they were light
amber colored about two inches long shaped like a slim Christmas tree and looked like a sponge. I have never ever seen them in a market.

When hickory nuts and walnuts were ready to be harvested, Dad knew just where to go. We liked digging young dandelions for eating and later looked for larger ones for wine making. We picked elderberries for the same purpose.

Most of the time we just enjoyed looking at the scenery, and weather­permitting, we would round off the day playing croquet in the backyard.

The National Geographic Society

I was looking at a National Geographic for the first time when my father came in from work. He sat down beside me. I excitedly, showed him pictures of people wearing something like diapers and children who wore nothing at all!

He explained that they were people who lived in a country far away. He turned the pages and pointed out many other kinds of people that I had never seen. He was pleased that I was so interested and said we would be getting the magazine every month as he had been investigated and approved for membership in the National Geographic Society. They didn't allow some people to subscribe to their magazine. I said, "Like bad people?" He paused a little and shook his head "yes". Apparently they were trying to attract the upper crust. It was very costly. I wonder when they eagerly began taking everybody's money?

How we parted with our savings

Mary and I started saving a quarter a week when we reached junior high. Every week on Friday we would take our money to school and a representative from the Savings and Loan would take it and enter the sum in our passbooks.

When a lot of banks started to flounder, ours was no exception. It went bankrupt. We were very upset. I refused to believe that we would never see any of our money and sure enough we would, months, maybe more than a year later, receive a small percentage on each dollar deposited as a settlement.

We promptly bought our Jenny Lind twin beds. Our parents helped us out a bit. We were very proud of ourselves and thankful we not longer had to share a bed.

Income Tax

Income tax was a new development. I overheard my father saying, "It is just a beginning, one day we will be taxed beyond belief!"

My Father's jobs

My father was secretary of a Jewish owned Iron Works Company during the First World War and for years afterward. He was the only gentile officer. I grew up thinking that Jewish people were nice to have as friends.

One evening when I was about ten, our family were enjoying ourselves at the Olentangy Amusement Park when Dad suddenly began to have severe pain. The next day we were told he had a kidney infection. Two operations fairly close together left him with a weakness and depression and finally unemployment.

My mother rose to the occasion. Before her marriage she was an expert seamstress and earned a good living. In two weeks time she was in business. She opened a school in their large bedroom upstairs. It had windows on two sides, which gave lots of light. She taught ladies the skills of making designer clothes. The all had knowledge of basic sewing. They did all own their own machine stitching and worked under her supervision. She gave advice on finishing handwork. They went home delighted with a garment worthy of a label, plus it fit well. Mother's venture was very successful. She charged $30.00 a day and always had a waiting list.

Dad would visit the card room at the Columbus Men's Athletic Club several evenings a week. His winnings helped out a lot.

Christmas in spite of it all

Christmas was coming and no one seemed to give it any importance. Mary and I were afraid to mention it. About five o'clock on Christmas Eve Mother suddenly gave us seventy‑five cents and suggested that we go to the lot on Fifth Avenue and see if we could buy a leftover tree.

Fifth Avenue was three long blocks away. Looking back, I don't know how we did it, but we arrived home with a nice sized tree and a quarter. I carried the trunk end and Mary tried to keep the top from dragging on the ground. Our backs, arms and hands ached but this was soon forgotten when we turned on the lights of our beautifully decorated tree.

All four of us had the feeling of God's promise that things would soon be all right with us and sure enough, about six weeks later things slowly began to change for the better.

Our mother was a trooper. Never once during our hard times did I ever hear her complain. She trained Mary and I how to clean for a house
and the people in it. Most times we helped willingly. Sometimes we needed a push and a shove. But many times, I am proud to say, we pitched in without being asked.

Dad started to sell life insurance for John Hancock and surprised everyone by becoming successful in a very short time. He could sell anywhere in the state.

Mother's schoolroom again became sleeping quarters for my parents. They had still used it for dressing purposes although they had been sleeping out on our sleeping porch. Mary and I cheered when they went through the door for the first time to sleep.

A housekeeper was never again considered. We had become a team. Besides, we preferred Mother's cooking. It was a good thing we didn't get a housekeeper, because a few years later the depression came along and money was a little tight at times.

Mother's New Buick

One day Dad surprised Mother with the gift of a brand new Buick Sedan. The news of "Mrs. Pinney's new car" quickly spread through the neighborhood and was always referred to in the same manner for years.

The garage was enlarged. The first time Mother backed out alone, Mary and I stayed inside sitting on the steps, holding our hands over our ears. Mother became a good driver.

Halloween ‑ An Unsolved Mystery

We looked forward to Halloween. Beggar's night was not something we planned to do, though. This night we were only out because Jane's mother wouldn't let her go unless she had at least four friends with her. Mary and I would be caught dead before we begged for pennies. As it turned out, most of the others felt the same way. I guess we must have been a pretty forlorn looking group as we trudged along. I think that only twice did someone knock on a door and that was Jane.

Behind us we heard a kindly voice saying, "What's the problem? Aren't you having any luck?"

Silently we gazed at the fairy tale person standing before us and shook our heads "no". He was jaunty, wearing a derby hat, a coat with shiny buttons, spats, and carrying a gold‑headed cane.

He said, "Cheer‑up," and managed to maneuver us across the street and into the drug store. He asked our choice of ice cream cone, paid the clerk, tipped his hat and was out the door before we could say thank you.

We walked home with light hearts, our imaginations running wild. I think our final conclusion was that he was an English lord. He was the mystery man we talked about for years.


Friday nights were special during the years of vaudeville. Before every movie show at the Keith Theatre there was a show. We saw the Singer Midgets, Siamese Twins, of both sexes, magicians, musicians, all kinds of animal and bird acts, plus comedians and much more. We looked forward to these weekly outings.

One Christmas

Mary and I thought we had a good thing going. We pretended to believe in Santa Claus for more years than I care to admit.

During Christmas Eve dinner one year, my father casually said, "If it weren't for Santa Claus, we could go over to Aunt Hattie's tonight. We usually went on Christmas morning. Mary and I immediately admitted our loss of faith and an hour later we were on our way. Our bags had already been packed. We were halfway to Springfield when we realized we had been tricked and shamefully grinned at each other.

One hectic Christmas night

We, as usual, had a wonderful Christmas at the Perks' (Aunt Hattie and Uncle Reg). Their son, Merrill, his wife and baby, June, were there too. About seven o'clock Dad received a phone call, and we were soon on our way home a day early. We were all tired and sleepy when we pulled into our driveway. We woke up pretty fast when we went inside the house at about 10:30. All our beds were filled with Rose's relatives.

For the first and last time I saw my mother hit the roof. In an hour's time the relatives were gone, the beds were freshly remade, and the Pinney girls were tucked in, very pleased that baths had been overlooked.

Rose fixed us breakfast the next day and all was forgiven. Later I learned that Dad had paid for a hotel. I think Rose was with us for a little over one more year.

One New Year's Eve

A favorite memory of mine was one New Year's Eve in 1921. I have a vivid picture of my pretty mother coming down the stairs, dressed in a beautiful blue lace evening gown, followed by my handsome father wearing a tuxedo. A miner's cap, featuring an oil lamp ready for lighting, was perched on his head. They were leaving for a New Years Eve party.

The next morning when I went downstairs, mother was alone in the sunroom. I asked her what she did at the party and she showed me how to jitterbug. I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. She was quite a dancer! I have always been glad that we had that time

Our New Year's Day tradition

The Sullivans were family friends for years. We had a tradition that Mary and I didn't care for. We could always expect exactly the same thing ‑ greasy roast goose and sauerkraut. The day wasn't completely lost, as there was always a yummy dessert. Other days we loved to go there and eat.

I was a little younger than their daughter Betty. We three girls got along but we were never close friends. Betty gave a bridal shower for me. I have always thought it wasn't her idea. Most of the guests I had never met, so I couldn't enjoy myself and was relieved when the party was over. I still wonder why those girls were willing to spend money on gifts for me ‑ especially such nice ones.


My fall from grace

Third grade spelling turned out to be a big thing in my life. I took it once for myself, once with Jo, twice for Amy, twice for Susan and twice for Bonnie. The following is about the first time:

Every Monday we were given a list of spelling words and every Friday we had a test. Our papers were then exchanged with the person across the aisle. We were supposed to look carefully at the black board after the teacher wrote the correct spelling, mark the ones that were wrong, and then hand them back. Then, the worst was yet to come, we had to take them home and have a parent sign them and bring them back on Monday.

One Friday, I knew my mother would be disappointed because she had drilled me all week. I walked home slow‑poking in the rain. On an impulse, I crammed the paper behind a bush planning to tell the teacher that I lost it. About 7 o'clock that night the doorbell rang and an older boy named Bruce, handed my mother my paper. Just my luck.... to pick a bush in the front yard of a good friend of my mother! Bruce Humberstone later became a famous director or producer in Hollywood.

When I was in the fifth grade they gave some kind of test and I came out at the eighth grade level.

Twice I was a little bit envious of Mary because she would look so pretty and graceful dancing around the May Pole and I wished it was me being that graceful. I didn't resent her though.

The clubs

I belonged to a club called the Maid Marion's Club. We made headbands out of brown and green braided ribbons. I don't think we did much more than eat.

In high school I belonged to the Girl Reserves, sponsored by the YWCA. It was like girls scouts. I wore a blue skirt, white middy blouse and blue tie.

Interurban, or traction rail car. The Columbus-Springfield route was part of the Ohio Electric Railway system, which ran from 1902 to 1939

As teenagers, Mary and I went to the neighborhood movie once a week, attended the tea dances at the YWCA, went to Redland Field on ladies day to see the Cincinnati Reds play, had tea parties at home, and spent a lot of time with Aunt Julia and Uncle Mack on their farm.

There were things that I did without Mary as a teenager. I frequently took the traction to Springfield to visit Aunt Hattie and Uncle Reg, went to summer camp, made regular visits to the State Hospital to visit my mother's brother Harry.

Mary and I used to take ballet and I also took tap dancing. I have a picture of me at a dance recital.

Some random thoughts

My mother was interested in phrenology. A woman felt the bumps on her heard and told things about her. She took Mary because she wanted to learn more about her. Whenever I got sick she thought is was my fault and was a little bit disgusted with me. She thought that I didn't have to be if I didn't want to be.

I don't remember Mary and I having any fights. I do remember one thing about her. Whenever I got sick she thought it was my fault and was a little bid disgusted with me. She thought that I didn't have to be sick if I didn't want to be

We girls always had new dresses for the first day of school and for Easter.

Ladies would often carry large fur muffs in the winter. Little girls would carry much smaller muffs made out of white rabbit fur. A cord was fastened to each end and it would go around the neck.

Our first ride in a heated car was bliss. It was much better than snuggling under a thick car lap robe.

Many a time, I was sent back into the house for a clean pair of gloves.

You could shop all day and come home carrying only your pocketbook. All purchases large, or small, were delivered to our home the next day without charge.

All Lazarus stores had a bargain basement. It was the for‑runner of the modern outside sales.

Closet doors were to be kept closed. My father said that if we wanted everyone to see our hodge‑podge, he would take the door off.

The front door was kept locked for most of the time. Generally we used the back or side door, that way, the rug in the front hail, always looked clean, and bright. Carpets were swept one week with a hand sweeper and the next with an electric Hoover. In the spring, they were hung on the clothesline, beaten, hand scrubbed and left to dry on the grass in our back yard.

We had draperies at the windows in the winter, and lightweight curtains during the summer. Bedspreads were changed with the seasons.

Sunday morning breakfast and evening meals were a must for every member of our family. Mary and I were encouraged to speak freely, but nothing distressful, was to be discussed. We felt very lucky because kitty-corner across the street was a family whose children were always fed before the parents.

On cold winter nights, mother would begin to mix a hot toddy when Dad's car pulled into the driveway. Dad grew mint behind the garage every summer for juleps. He was famous for them. He could braise the leaves just right.

When we were old enough for social drinking, Mary declined. She would get tipsy if she smelled the cork.

In the evenings Mother and Dad usually played cribbage.

Mother was an early woman smoker. Dad begged her to keep him company.

Mother, sitting on the floor in front of a crackling fire, made a pretty picture as she combed the cats.

Mother kept picture book looking flowerbeds that she cared for herself.

Chewing gum was allowed only in the privacy of our room. To prove his point, my father escorted us on a streetcar ride to town and back. I must admit that the gum chewing mouths were disgusting. There were so many - could it have been a paid excursion? I wouldn't put it past him. To this day, I can't comfortably chew gum.

Mother and I shared a secret

For years, unknown to mother, I shared her secret vice. Each month I read the True Story Magazine that she hid under the carpet in the living room. The hump was hidden under an overstuffed chair.

I knew the jig was up the day I was asked to vacuum the rug in the living room. Not a word was said, but we just grinned at each other.

Lexington ice storm jogs my memory

Lexington's awesome ice storm (Feb, 2002) reaffirmed my belief that I was indeed one lucky lady: The ice caused trees to fall and branches to snap cutting off electricity in most of the city for a week or more. The electricity went off in our building and at Susan's house too. We had plenty of blankets so we were able to keep warm through the night, keeping a flash light within reach. Rumors of mass evacuation of Friendship Towers began the next morning. I was beginning to worry about how I could manage the twice a day treatment for a surgical wound on my arm.

It was never a problem because Susan appeared and soon had us settled in what we referred to as a "one room cabin". Her family room had a gas log fireplace. It kept four people warm. Susan had a visitor from Chile staying with her. We never took off our clothes for two days and a night.

Susan made hot meals in pots placed on top of the logs. We had the luxury of candles and a radio. We slept on recliners and sofas. We left the "cabin" as few times as possible. The outside "privy" (her bathroom) was very cold!

The first time I plopped down on the cold seat, I screamed. Then I smiled. I remembered myself as a small child being picked out of bed on a cold winter morning by my freshly shaved father and taken to the bathroom. He was wearing a flannel bathrobe. For a few minutes we sat together on the commode. He said that he was warming up the seat for me.

After mission accomplished, he tucked me back in bed and said, "Mother would come and get me after the house warmed up." I felt loved then and I felt loved when I walked back into the warm haven that Susan provided for me. I dearly love the two of them.

My father, the entertainer

When I was thirteen or fourteen a family membership swimming pool opened in lower Grandview. It was quite a long way to walk to but we didn't mind. By that time the ban on boys had been forgotten. Mary and I weren't much interested in spending a lot of time swimming, though we did take the lessons. We preferred to spread our beach towels on the hot concrete, sit down watching all the time for new arrivals, while showing off our swimsuits.

I well remember the afternoon I heard a burst of laughter and looked up just in time to see a man jumping up and down on the high diving board. It was my father wearing an old fashion bathing suit that had short sleeves and pants that came down to his calves. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when he deliberately made an awkward dive and splashed into the pool. He kept up his antics for fifteen or twenty minutes. I think I was sixteen. I was relieved to find that the kids thought I had a great Dad. In the beginning I was mortified. I think that was a performance Mary missed.

Joe Pinney's 50th birthday party

Dad threw a birthday party for himself when he became fifty. Friends and neighbors began to gather in our backyard in the mid‑afternoon. At about four, the bar opened. A good friend, Jim, was the bartender.

Everyone was having a jolly time; they were an equally mixed group. Dinner was to be served at six o'clock.

About quarter to six, a cop appeared on the scene: He asked for Joe Pinney. Dad came forward and was informed that a neighbor reported a ruckus and he would have to take him in.

Jim threw off his apron ‑ said if anyone was going in it should be him ‑ he mustn't take Joe. Half a dozen others stated firmly that there had been no trouble. What a commotion!

Suddenly someone noticed that Joe was grinning. Others began to realize that all the neighbors were at the party. They had been had! The cop left with an envelope in his pocket. Dad sure knew how to give a party. Through the years, Hal has spoken of it many times.

Dad's good deed

Years before the party, Jim was one of the first ones to buy insurance from my father. When Dad noticed that Jim's eyesight seemed to be bothersome, he tried to sell him more protection with disability insurance. Jim said that he couldn't hack it, and the subject was dropped.

Before I left home, Jim was legally blind. To his surprise he started to receive a sizeable check every month and would as long as he lived. Dad had been secretly paying for it. I learned this from Jim, there was never a word about it from Joe Pinney.

I felt like a pioneer

I must have been in my early teens when a Piggly Wiggly store opened on Grandview Avenue. I well remember the day. The advertised specials tempted my mother. She asked me to pick some up for her.

I would occasionally shop for her at Krogers. It was customary to make a list and hand it to the clerk behind the counter. I would wait while he bustled around collecting the items and putting them in a bag. I would then, pay him and start for home.

This day, at the Piggly Wiggly, I was in for a surprise. When I passed through the door, clutching my list, I was given a basket on wheels. I was told to push it around, selecting what I came for, and then go to the check out counter where my groceries would be bagged, and I would pay for them.

The Piggly Wiggly and Krogers stores were located in the Bank Block on Grandview Avenue.

I was stunned and more than a little insulted, but I began pushing my cart up and down the well‑stocked isles. To my surprise, I was enjoying myself. I suddenly had a strong feeling of pride. I was actually there, when a brand new method of grocery shopping came to Grandview. It was fantastic! It took half the usual time for me to get home to spread the news. My moment of indignation was my secret, until now!


My first date

One Saturday afternoon when I answered the ring of our doorbell, I was surprised to see a boy who I only knew from passing him in the halls at school. I also saw a touring car parked out front with several kids in it.

He asked me to go for a drive with him. I was about to say, "no" because I didn't want to say that I'd have to ask my Dad, but suddenly Dad was behind me and said, "Sure she can go."

I had a good time riding around for about an hour. Then we went to an ice cream parlor. For the life of me, I can't remember his first name, but his last name was Patton. I remember his face and that he was some way related to General Patton.

Fern Russell

My best friend in high school was Fern Russell. We spent a lot of time together. One Saturday during our junior year she arranged a blind date for me. We were going to an afternoon dance at the YMCA. She was taking a family friend and he would bring one of his friends.

I was halfway down the stairs when our doorbell rang. I looked down and through our glass front door made contact with eyes that made my heart flip flop. Paul Rainy, the family friend, became my steady beau. Fern was pleased, but her mother and his mother weren't.

Mrs. Rainy did invite me to dinner. I don't know which of us was the most uncomfortable. I sensed that she was trying to be pleasant. Paul and I liked being together. He had to come clear across Columbus to do so. It was a sweet romance and a young innocent girl's dream.

The last time that Fern and I were together, was an unusual day. It was on a Sunday, a cold and windy late fall day. When we met, I spotted her lightweight coat and gasped, "Fern, you'll freeze to death!" She replied, "My pride will keep me warm!" She did look fetching.

We were on a mission, at her request, but very reluctant on my part. She wanted to have her palm read. I thought it was hocus‑pocus. A streetcar ride, and a short walk down a seedy street, brought us to a house with an open palm painted on the front window.

As had I expected, we were met by a woman who was dressed like a gypsy. Perhaps she was a gypsy. I was uneasy so Fern went first. When my turn came, I too put three half dollars in her hand. She grasped my hand, turned it over, and stared at my palm so long I started to get a chill. I got out of there pretty fast. I remembered only two things. She said I would have a very long life and that I would soon have an unexpected meeting with someone who meant a lot to me.

Friday night, Willard, making his first trip back since going to Morgantown, cut in when I was at a dance on campus. I wasn't a bit surprised. I had been warned.

After graduation, Fern married a classmate, Ralph Schwartz, who had been her high school sweetheart. I have often wondered if Fern was told of the elopement with Ralph. They left town and were suddenly gone. We lost track. I never found out where she went. She was a very special girl.

The last conversation that I had with Paul was over the phone. For over half an hour he tried to persuade me to go off that very day and marry him. I liked him a lot but I wasn't tempted. I kept saying, "This is not the time". I even cried a little. Finally I sadly hung up and he went out of my life. College opened up a whole new world.

Irma Hazlet

Irma Hazlet lived across the street. She and I were bugged because we couldn't talk to each other on the phone. Hers was a Citizen and ours was on the Bell system. That was corrected but I can't remember when.

Irma's mother, thinking she was bringing a special new treat, made a large bowl of Jell‑O to take to a picnic on a hot July day. When it was time to eat, she picked up the bowl and before she could get it out of the basket everything was colored with red water. Jell‑O had just turned up on the grocery shelves and she wasn't aware that it would melt.

On an outing with the Hazlets, Irma insisted we throw away the tips of our ice cream cones because they would poison us. Because we were company, we didn't argue.

Irma and her husband came to our fiftieth wedding anniversary party. They also visited us once in Phoenix. The last time I saw her was a few years later when we were on a trip to Ohio. She laughingly told me that one time she was very jealous of me because my mother would let me wear high‑heeled shoes.

For many years my feet received a lot of attention. They were my best feature. When the time came for high‑heeled shoes, I was in my glory because a family friend, who was a shoe salesman, would sell my father, my size shoes, that he used for models, for fifty cents a pair. I always had quite a collection. Fourteen pairs went with me when I left Columbus in 1934.

Margaret Markel

Margaret Markel (we called her Peg) lived next door to the parrot who bugged me. She moved to North Columbus just before we were to begin junior high. We visited back and forth. She gave one of my bridal showers.

During the summer of 1936 she surprised me with a short visit. She had come to Wyoming, Ohio, where Hal and I and Jo were living, to interview for a librarian position.

I wasn't able to attend Grandview High's fiftieth reunion. The next summer Helen Motz Hevely arranged a luncheon so that I could meet all of the class members who still lived in the area, and she included Margaret. It was a great day. Amy took me to Columbus. She enjoyed herself.

Through the years Peg and I exchanged Christmas cards and newsy letters. Last year I didn't receive one.

About my angel

Latin was not for me. I limped through the first semester, struggled and then failed the second semester. My mother was very upset. I was mortified. When my Dad came home and she broke the news I held my breath.

"So what," he said. "She's still brighter than most girls." Right then I knew I'd love him forever.

I needed the credit and to graduate I would also need two years of another language so I started my junior year taking Latin and French. Latin was still not a breeze but I did fairly well in French.

I knew that one third of my Latin grade would be based on my exam. It was imperative that I do well. We were given a paper with information about Rome; we were expected to translate it into Latin. It seemed familiar.

I closed my eyes and a complete page from our textbook appeared, picture and all. By opening and shutting my eyes I was able to copy it down word for word. I had an uneasy feeling I was cheating, but since it was a miracle, it had to be okay and I was convinced I really did have an angel on my shoulder.

A quick turn about

Latin might not have been the only subject that I had trouble with, if my observant and resourceful mother hadn't spotted my anxiety. Geometry, from page one, baffled me. One whole week of the class didn't end my feeling of doom.

Mother remembered that one of her friends had a son several years older than I was, who was reported to be quite a scholar. The Sidebottoms lived on the street in back of us. Whitney was willing to try to help me. I only took an hour and a half of his time ‑ from then on, geometry was a breeze.

Whitney explained that it was like playing a game. You learned a few rules and then you had lots of hours of entertainment solving problems. A change of attitude did wonders for me. I lost track of him and his sister, Lorna. I think that they must have left town before I did. He would have been a great teacher. I wish I knew.

How I Came in First Without Even Trying

I was making up my schedule for my senior year when a manual from Ohio State University arrived. I leafed through it and noticed that if I had already had a year of chemistry that I would have to take an advanced course at Ohio State. The idea did not appeal to me. I had to have a science to graduate, so my only choice was physics.

The first day of class I was surprised to see only two other girls. We were amazed to hear that we were the first girls to take that course at Grandview High! Strange as it may seem, we were all three there for the same reason. It was an interesting year and the boys were very nice.

Fourth of July Celebrations

Fourth of July celebrations were held at the Karshrier' s summer camp north of Worthington. It was on a farm they owned. They had a tenant farmer. There was a separate building for the kitchen, mostly used by Uncle Mac. The other building had a living room, dining room, and bedroom. The privy was high on the hill.

We had a big time. We swam in the river. We walked through a field of corn to get there. We detoured on the way back to eat a tomato fresh off the vine. We helped turn the crank for the gallons of ice cream being made. We watched our elders shuck corn. We took turns sneaking homemade pickles out of the enormous crock they were in. It was in plain sight but somehow it was a real daring thing to do. You had to stick your fingers in and out real quick and take a bite so you couldn't put it back.

At night, Uncle Mac shot off fireworks while we sat on the hill. We had lots of sparklers and Roman Candles.

Uncle Mac and Aunt Judy had two huge ugly English bulldogs. I couldn't bear to look at them. I got the heaves every time that I did.


Lake Erie

We spent several summers on the shore of Lake Erie. It was private property owned by a farmer. Our trailer was always parked a comfortable distance from the lake and not too far or close to the privy. It was a nice grassy place. We loved it.

One day I wandered up to the farmhouse and the wife invited me in and offered me a cup of tea. There were no tea bags in those days so my cup was lined with tealeaves. She said that she could see my future by looking at them if I wanted her to.

I can't remember all she said but I do recall she mentioned that I would have several children, one of which would not live to grow up and one would make headlines in the paper and that I would travel back and forth across the country many times.

Lake James

At least three years that I can remember we went to Lake James outside of Angola, Indiana. We always went to the same cottage right on the lake. We loved to go there.

Somebody owned a black crow that had a split tongue and could talk. Some joker taught him to say, "Joe Pinney". Every year when we would come back the crow would say, "Joe Pinney".

On our first trip we took our cat along. Its name was Snooky. The cat didn't take to riding in the car. We had to stop in Worthington, Ohio and leave it at my Aunt Mary and Uncle Nate's. Uncle Nate was my father's brother.

Mary and I would feel so important when the mail launch came. We usually went a couple of weeks just before school started. We usually missed about a day of school in fall.

One time my mother nearly had a heart attack. One morning she woke up and looked out on the lake and saw Mary and I each with an oar in our hand in a rowboat with our grandmother, Sarah Bentzel. Neither one of us could swim. I don't know about my grandmother.

We would walk around the edge of the lake to an area where they had stores. We'd buy ice cream. The woman would always weigh the ice cream on her scale and put it in a cardboard container. We didn't buy the ice cream like that in Grandview. It was never weighed.

My dad would go out and catch blue gills and we would have them for breakfast.

Our Gilkie Camping Trailer

Another time we stopped in Indianapolis, Indiana to pick up a Gilkie Camping Trailer. It opened up and one double bed went out one side and another double bed went out the other. There was an ice chest and a little cooking burner set. You could cook inside the tent when it rained.

The first place that we went with the trailer was along a river, I don't remember where, but it was out in the middle of nowhere. We went with the Hodges who had another one of the trailers. They had a daughter my age named Doris.

The main reason I remember that is that Doris was an adopted daughter that had epileptic fits. Doris tried to drown herself on the trip. I knew Doris all my life.

The Gilkie Travel Trailer

Joe Pinney's famous game dinners

My father was a born hunter. He was quite good at it and enjoyed being out in the wild. During the four or five years before he was plagued with kidney problems, the "in" thing was to be invited by Joe Pinney to one of his game dinners. There wasn't a year that he didn't look forward to going to Canada with three or four other hunters. They were buddies for only that time of year so I have no idea who they were.

One year they would go for moose, the next deer. Once he brought home a mounted deer head that still hung on the mantel in our sunroom the day I left home.

Their kill was always butchered properly and cut and packaged and marked. Dad would have enough to feed eight in each of his packages. They were stored in a frozen food storage locker in downtown Columbus.

Mother never had to worry about what to serve for the main course except for the days when he came home and informed her that he had invited six people for a squirrel or pheasant dinner. He would go out the day before to bag the game. She was usually beside herself. He couldn't understand her problem. The day they came for possum, I took a look at the finished product. It had its head on and had a carrot in its mouth. I thanked the Lord that I hadn't been invited.

Once evening Mary and I perched ourselves on the top stair hoping we would hear something interesting. We did. We heard a man's voice. He said, "Joe Pinney never wasted a bullet, he has a good eye and always hits a vital spot." We thought that was something to be proud of. You would have thought we had won a blue ribbon. We had a hard time to keep from being noticed. We thought we had better leave before we got caught.

For these special meals, mother always took complete charge of the entrée. Rose did most of the rest. Dad would always praise her for again making his dinner party successful. She was a gracious hostess. She did set a table that was always greatly admired. We girls grew up being reminded, "Always have your table looking like you were expecting the Queen of England."

Twice a reluctant dancer

Part 1

Being enrolled at a dance academy seemed to be expected of all well brought up girls, ready or not. Mother had two of us who attended. I suffered through one recital. The only time I was happy was when I looked at the picture of my class wearing our costumes. I wasn't wearing glasses and I thought I looked pretty good. I can't remember much more so I must have been allowed to quit.

Mary was another matter. She was very talented and took ballet and toe for several years. She danced in public every now and then. Sometimes when I close my eyes I see her, as she was one night. She was dancing a solo on a stage in a large theatre. She was so pretty and graceful leaping on her toes. I haven't the faintest memory of the rest of the program.

Mary also danced for Dad's Masonic Lodge. They were putting on a benefit of some sort. She looked very pretty in the ballet dress mother made for her.

Mother thought perhaps she was headed for a career. It was not to be; her teacher suggested that her lessons come to an end. Mary had great talent but lacked the charisma needed to project her self on the stage. Was Mary unhappy? No way! She never liked people to stare at her. She only did it to please our mother. When we had company she would, most of the time, scoot up the stairs as soon as she could politely do so.

Part 2

Strange as it may seem, my dancing lessons were not over. Students at Ohio State had to take six quarters of physical education and I was there for all six. For the first two I chose interpretive dancing. Mother made me a flowing see‑through Grecian gown, which I wore over a one-piece bathing suit. I was as ungraceful as ever but nobody seemed to care. I was just doing what the music made me feel.

I still had four quarters to go. For two of them I swam and dove off the board when I was forced. Next I tried tennis and finally golf. Looking on the bright side, I did escape things such as hockey and gymnastics.

My mother, a would be beautician

Mother did her best with her girls, making pretty dresses and fussing with our hair. Mary gracefully allowed her to rub egg whites, beaten until frothy, through her clean hair, and brushing it out when it dried. The result was that Mary had beautiful curly hair.

The egg yolks weren't wasted. They too, were well beaten and rubbed into mother's own hair. I don't remember how long it remained, but I know it was washed off. The result was that she had beautiful, blond hair.

The egg bit didn't last forever. After mother stopped using it, Mary's hair continued to be soft and curly. Mother remained blonde until the day she died.

I was the lucky one. I just shampooed my hair with Tag laundry soap to keep it red. I used Tag soap until it was no longer on the market and my hair remained red. Several bouts of ether, when I gave birth to my babies, darkened it.

When we lived in Cincinnati in the early sixties, our next‑door neighbor opened a beauty parlor in her home. She persuaded me that she could restore my hair to its former glory. It wasn't exactly how I remembered it, but I was satisfied. When we moved to Phoenix in 1963, I took her formula with me. One of my first priorities was to locate the nearest beauty parlor. At the age of seventy, I began to let nature take its course.

The haircut

I was mid‑way through junior high when my mother heard about an amazing man, who was successfully designing haircuts to suit your face. Immediately she thought it was exactly what I needed. I was willing to gamble, although I believed it was a lost cause.

It was unbelievable; I thought I was going to be bald! The back was shingled; the bangs and sides were feathered and brushed toward my nose. Horrible? No. Surprisingly, it suited me and was a big change for the better.

After a couple of years, I got tired of a trip on the streetcar every two weeks to get it cut. At graduation, I had French braids.


My graduation from high school was a bigger celebration for mother than for me. I was the first in her family to do so. Aunt Hattie and Uncle Reg came. I think it was the only time the two of them stayed overnight.

Dad never made it to high school graduation either. His stepmother didn't like having him around so after two years he dropped out and was on his own at age sixteen. Mother, hearing how she had hurt my father, never even tried to like his stepmother, so neither did I. She was the only person, that I ever heard about, that didn't like Joe Pinney.

After graduation my life slowly began to change. I became bolder and a bit more daring when it came to trying new things. For years, I had liked the feel of wearing pajamas. Aunt Till, the most modern of my aunts, had given me a gift of lounging pajamas that were for outside wear.

The garment was made of a paisley patterned silk material. It was one piece, sleeveless, and the pant legs flared as they approached ankle length. The shoulders were not seamed together. They each had tab so they could be tied in a bow. I stepped into it, tied my bows, and looked into a full-length mirror, and liked what I saw.

I decided to walk outside. I loved the feel of the swish as I walked, so I kept on walking. People smiled when I passed but I didn't feel like a freak.

Grandview Avenue had a miniature golf course, which was newly opened. I noticed that a small group was starting around the course and I decided to join them. Except for one "Wow!" there was no comment.

When I came home Mother asked if I had had a good time. I hugged her and said, "Yes." Pajamas became the rave that summer. Thanks to my Aunt Till, I was a leader not a follower. It was a new feeling and I liked it.

Ohio State University

My dad was opposed to sororities but my mother wanted me to experience rush parties. I didn't care one way or the other. However, since she made me two satin dresses with matching hats, I just couldn't let them hang in my closet.

Taxi service was provided from house to house. It was interesting and I pleased my mother. I really think my father was pleased that I received two bids, but he was firm about me not getting to be a "snob or led down the garden path." I suppose I would have been crushed if none of them wanted me, but actually I was relieved not to join. Someone told me that my boyfriends would have to be approved by my sorority sisters.

Two choices that turned out well

When I began my studies in the College of Agriculture in the fall of 1931, it was my intention to become a dietitian. I had the privilege of selecting two electives in the first two years. The first was etymology (history of words). I really enjoyed the course. Years later I was really glad that I had taken the time to investigate the name Helen.

Before we married, Hal and I agreed that I would name our girls and he the boys. Before our first baby arrived, every time my father had the chance, he would say, "Joe is a good name for a boy or a girl." So Jo it was with an Alice tacked on (mother's middle name). Amy Gene was short for Amy Eugenia (Hal's mother's name). Susan was a name we both liked. I remembered that Helen and Elaine way back in time were both derived from the same word meaning 'light'. Hal asked if he could name our last child Bonnie Louise. We knew by then that he would never have a son to name. It would be too dangerous for me to give birth again.

The choice of my second elective surprised everyone, including me. I am sure that I must have been nudged by my angel to have chosen that class. When I entered the room for my Introduction to Architectural drawing, I had mixed emotions. At first glance there seemed to be no girls. Then I spotted a few and gave a quick sigh of relief. Before the quarter was over I was entranced with what I was doing. I didn't even pay any attention to the boys. But I did pick up the fact that your pencil belonged behind your ear when you weren't using it.

We each had our own special project to design a home for a family. We were to consider the needs of each person. Mine consisted of a father, a lawyer who would need an office, a mother, who was a clubwoman who liked to entertain, a baby boy, and a girl who was an artist. The house was to be built on a corner lot, I can't remember the size, and have two floors.

Before I could begin, I had to learn a lot about building, most of which I have now forgotten. I do recall that I had a problem with some of the plumbing. I hadn't left enough space between the walls. But I did get the plan on paper and earned a three hour credit. It was my favorite class.

It would have been easier for Jo to put all my memories together if I had chosen creative writing. I'm glad I took her up on her suggestion that I put them on paper. They have proved to me, just like I said, I did have a wonderful life as a Pinney girl!

Memorable School Breaks

Several of my school breaks were spent in Springfield, Ohio with Aunt Hattie and Uncle Reg. I would take the traction over. I enjoyed being with mother's family. I remember filling several books with S & H green stamps for her. At that time we didn't receive stamps at grocery stores in Columbus.

Aunt Hattie and I went to church one Easter. Uncle Reg took us but he wouldn't go in. He said he liked to sit in the parking lot listening to the music.

Dating my freshman year

During my freshman year I stated to date a boy named Gene. I already had a date the third time he called. He was disappointed, as he really wanted to go to a dance, and asked if I knew anybody else who would go with him. I said he could ask my sister. After that, whichever one of us answered the phone he'd ask her out. If he got turned down he would ask for the other one. We always went to nice places with him. However, he was always worrying that some girl was going to marry him for his money. May and I secretly hoped one would but she wasn't going to be a Pinney girl! The next year we had other interests.

While I was still a freshman I was in seventh heaven because I, a lowly freshman, was going to the Engineer's Ball with a senior. He asked me to wear a special white dress he had seen me wear before. I had a good time. One the way home in the cab he said, "I guess I'd better kiss you." I thought it was weird but I smiled and said, "Okay." I got a peck on the cheek.

The next morning I picked up the morning paper and what did I see? His picture! He was graduating from college at the age of seventeen. I don't remember his name.

More friends

I made friends with a girl from a wealthy family from Boston. Her name was Ernestine Kelly and she stayed in Pomerene Hall, at that time, the most posh dorm. She had twin beds and I often stayed overnight. She was one of the first two women to graduate from the Veterinary College.

Ohio State, being a land grant college, required all males to take military training. Most of them chose the infantry.

One spring day in 1932, I unexpectedly had a free hour. For the first time I was able to watch the R.O.T.C. Cavalry go through maneuvers. Riding well groomed horses, wearing snappy uniforms, they looked very dashing.

When they broke ranks and started to ride away, I turned to rush away to class. I soon became aware that the soldier that had winked at me when he passed by was walking beside me. His name was Willard Hoffman. He asked to meet me for lunch. I hastily agreed. As I hurried on I wondered what he had done with his horse. I never did find out.

From the beginning, I knew he wouldn't be in town long. He was a second year pre med student. He would be leaving in the fall to enter medical school in Morgantown, West Virginia, returning after two years to finish at Ohio State.

We became close friends. Just before his departure for Morgantown, we decided we wanted to keep some sort of a tie. Surprisingly, we had the good sense to realize that we should be free to socialize during our college years. We were comfortable being "engaged to be engaged".

He was able to come to Columbus at least two times a month for one night. I was lucky enough to be escorted every place I wanted to go. Many out of town students wanted a date, not a sweetheart. Our formal engagement never happened, but he did come back to become a full fledged doctor.

An Unexpected Beginning

Hal had a smile that you couldn't ignore. The day we met in front of a church on a street corner I decided that he would be a perfect date for my sister. Before we parted from the streetcar we were both taking to Grandview, it was all arranged. We would be a party of four on Saturday night at a dance on campus.

We all seemed to get along very well but I don't remember doing it again. It took a while before I realized that, no matter where I went, Hal was there too. I was seeing more of him than I did Willard, although we never had a date until the day that I decided I would earn extra credit by doing an outside chemistry experiment. I was in the lab, setting things up, when in walked Hal. He flashed me a smile and said, "Put that stuff away. Let's go to a movie." I packed up and went.

I guess that was the beginning of a romance that would last for years. He slowly managed to win me over. He brought heart shaped boxes of candy and bouquets of flowers to my mother. I thought it was a pretty clever move and it did get him invitations to stay overnight.

In case you, are wondering, the movie was State Fair, starring Janet Gaynor, and YES, I did write a "Dear John" letter to Willard.

One night Hal and I double dated with Ernestine Kelly and Louis Payen. We met on the campus and were going to a movie downtown. We hailed a cab and found out it would be fifty cents. She opened the door saying, "We can get one for thirty five cents." The rest of us piled out and did so she could have bought the cab!

After graduation, she married Louis and moved to California. He was a veterinarian and they practiced together. I lost track of her after we left Pendery Avenue in Cincinnati.

Betty Madigan

Another girl by the name of Betty Madigan came from a large Catholic family. Hal and I double dated with her, too. Her boyfriend lived with his brother.

One night he insisted we go to his apartment and have some mince pie. Betty protested but we overruled her. She insisted on cutting and serving it, keeping a very thin slice for herself. We soon found out why. She had eaten it before. Hal and I suffered in silence but managed to swallow every bite!

Betty once told me a cute story. It seems she was at the stage when, for some strange reason (to me), she was going to school wearing no panties. Her father caught her, and told her if she didn't wear panties God would cover her with fur to keep her warm. She said, "One day I looked down and he was right!"

Betty visited us several times while we lived at Pendery. She was there the night before Amy was born. I was just starting labor.

She was a social worker in Cincinnati. One day she was visiting a distraught mother with five children. She was upset because she only had four cups of milk. "What was she going to give the other one?" Betty took the quart and divided it equally into five glasses. The mother was so relieved.

I think she left Cincinnati about a year before we (Hal and I and Jo and Amy) moved to Beech Drive.

Two days I'll never forget

Hal's first words to me were, "Did you ever take Zoology?" I admitted that I had been bisecting a frog and that it was beginning to get crummy. He had just finished a mid term exam and had mixed emotions about it. Mine was coming up the next afternoon. The memory of it pops up now and then.

The exam was monitored by an upper class student. I didn't recognize him. When the required time was up, he began collecting our papers. When he came to me he noticed the last five questions were blank. He quickly marked them and moved on to the next row putting it with the others.

The next morning, before I left home, I read in the paper that he had shot himself early last evening because he could no longer live with his homosexuality. I had to ask my father what that meant.

Our exam questions were all true or false. We were graded on the curve system. You lost more points with a wrong answer than you did with the unmarked one. I was in the B range. I'll never know if it was earned. I hadn't read the questions.

Mary graduates from high school

Mary thought that she was finally through with school when she accepted her diploma. However, she found that there were no jobs for an untrained young girl so she decided to go to Bliss College Business School.

That same winter, 1935-36, Dad decided to be a part of a Battelle Institute experimental research project using packaged powdered coal in his furnace. Along with the coal came a young man who was to monitor it off and on for several days. He was in the basement when Mary came home from school.

After dinner, Mother sent her downstairs with a pan of garbage for him to burn in the furnace so he could see how and what happened. That was their romantic meeting. Five days later she and Henry Ostborg were married. I remember nothing about the fate of the powdered coal or about Bliss College.


Mary made life what it is today

I had close contact with Mary for only twenty of my almost ninety years. My parents made a wise decision when they listened to my plea for a sister that I had promised to cherish. The word had been explained to me. I learned about consideration, sharing, loving and caring. As a result I have lasting friendships in Cincinnati, Phoenix and now in Lexington. I shudder when I think about the self‑centered brat I might have become.

Mary was never a leader and praise‑be, never a follower. She was her own person. Strangely, only one thing caused trouble between us. She insisted that any ailment I might have was my own fault. If I didn't think I had them, I wouldn't. I was never able to convince myself that I didn't hurt. She was one healthy little girl. After our father was stricken and she saw how he suffered, she stopped heckling me. There were never any more problems between us.

After we were married, our times together were few and very far between. She came twice to visit us when we lived on Pendery Avenue in Wyoming, Ohio. The second time she came to see us she introduced her new husband. Twice her whole family visited us in Hartwell. On one of her visits, she introduced the Perrine family to pizza.

We were together for several days, two different times, when we returned to Columbus to bury our parents. A couple of times, when Henry was alive, they visited us in Phoenix. In later years, Hal and I made cross-country trips once every two years, and we would make an over‑night stop to visit Mary in Chicago. The last time was on our move to Lexington.

Phone calls, back then, were not very frequent. I remember one that left me in a state of shock. The words, "Today I did my weeks ironing, and made myself a dress to wear this evening," still rang in my ears! She had stunned my again. She was a whiz at getting things done. I was always a slow poke.

When they moved to California we spent Christmas at their house. The last time Mary and I had shared a Christmas was in 1933. This Christmas was a splendid Christmas. We made plans to spend our final days close to each other. Hal and Henry discussed that after they both retired, the Ostborgs would move to Sun City and the two of them would be partners in a small business. We lived for several years with that happy thought.

I only spoke to Mary once about her sisters. It was probably about 1995 when Hal and I were making the cross‑country trip from Phoenix to Cincinnati and we stopped to see Mary in Chicago. We were on our feet making our goodbyes, when I startled myself by asking, "Do you ever wish you could reunited with your sisters?"

Without hesitation, she replied, "Of course not, you are the only sister I want." Silently blessing my angel, I gave her a quick hug and a kiss, made a quick dash out the door, barely making it to the car before the tears came.

Mary and Henry raised two children, Jan, a son and Mary Ann his younger sister. Jan and Mary Ann each had a son and a daughter also.

The Depression hits

Hal and I were finished with college at the end of our sophomore year The Depression was in full force. Fortunately, neither of our families had to suffer the indignity that many Americans were forced to suffer, but they had to watch their pennies.

Hal had a lot of knowledge about bookkeeping and simple accounting. His father was a boyhood friend of the President of Philip Carey, a manufacturer of roofing materials. He was happy to hire Hal. By November, Hal felt secure enough, so he asked my father for permission to marry me. Dad said, "Yes", but we had to have at least one room to call our own.

We were married twice the next summer... first in a civil ceremony in Covington, Kentucky on June 30, 1934 and second on August 12, 1934 at a lovely home wedding with both families present followed by breakfast.

Years later, I learned that my wedding could have ended with me in tears. Mother, responding to a wave from the doorway, made a hasty retreat to the kitchen. She was told that there were ants running across the wedding cake. It is still hard to believe that my meticulous mother just said, "Get them off" She quickly returned to the table, smiled, and whispered a quiet apology and resumed her conversation. Fifteen minutes later, my beautiful wedding cake was brought in. It received the usual murmurs of appreciation. Hal helped me cut the first piece and I rammed a good‑sized bite into his mouth.

I have a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about the events leading up to our marriage.

We started our life in a four‑room furnished apartment at 106 Pendery Avenue in Wyoming, Ohio.

We were blessed with four girls, Jo, Amy, Susan, and Bonnie. Jo, Amy and Susan lived most of their lives with us at 42 Sheehan Avenue in Hartwell, Ohio. Bonnie finished her schooling with us in Phoenix, Arizona.

The girls all married and they gave us ten grandchildren. Now we have sixteen great grandchildren and the possibility for even more. We hope we do. We are very proud of those who are our family future.

We moved to Phoenix in 1963

Hal and I moved to Phoenix in September of 1963. We enjoyed thirty-two worthwhile years in Phoenix. Except for our youngest daughter, Bonnie, we had no family in Arizona. In later years Hal's stepbrother, Charles Pomeroy and his wife, Betty, moved to Tucson. Charles' mother Charla later moved near them. Her final years were spent in Phoenix.

Bonnie married Tom Brown the November after her graduation. He joined our church. A few years later, after a visit from his brother, they soon decided to go to Missouri. They returned once for a short visit. They adopted a daughter named Mary. Bonnie and Tom now live in Alabama.

I banked my first paycheck

After Bonnie left, I became restless. I spotted a job offer in the newspaper that was within walking distance. I decided to apply. Three weeks later I walked home with my first paycheck. I was a teacher in a day care center. I worked for ten years.

My parents and their families had been dead for several years when we moved to Phoenix, except for three of Dad's family. They were his sister Ida "Til" Oyler; Dorthea White, daughter of his sister Anne; and Donna Pinney, widow of his brother Nate.


Both took place during the ten years that I worked at All Seasons, a day care center in Phoenix, Arizona.

First Visit:

One summer we decided to visit Hal's brother Bud who lived in Eustis, Florida. We took a side trip to St. Petersburg where my Aunt Till (my father's youngest sister) was in a nursing home. Her given name was Ida and her husband was Ben Oyler. He had been dead many years. Dorthea White, the daughter of my father's oldest sister, Anne, also lived in St. Petersburg and looked after her. I hadn't seen either of them since I had married. My aunt was bedfast... a lady with white, wispy hair. She had a pleasant woman sitting at her bedside who spent each day with her.

We enjoyed sharing memories. She and Uncle Ben lived at Buckeye Lake and one summer we rented a cottage there. Mary and I enjoyed the amusement park. I was in college then. My cousin lived in an apartment. I can't say for sure, but I believe that she was fifteen or more years older than me. All my cousins were older on both sides of the family. My cousin knew we were coming to Florida and was glad to see me. She gave me two pieces of Aunt Tills' jewelry that I cherish. The strand of beads broke and and somehow became lost. The necklace I want Heather, a granddaughter, to have. I think the two of them would have liked each other.

When we first sat down and faced each other, she looked at me thoughtfully and said, "You know, Helen Louise, after I had your phone call I tried to recall what I knew about you, and all I remember is that no one ever said anything bad about you." I wasn't exactly flattered, but at least she had given me some thought, and we had a good visit knowing it would be our last.

Second Visit:

The second visit was with Donna Pinney, the second wife of Dad's brother Nate. She went back to Texas after he died.

One Christmas, after we received a card from Donna, we decided that next time we journeyed back to Ohio we would drop in and say hello to her. She was ninety and living alone. We always planned something extra to do. When the time came, we called to tell her what day we would probably arrive. We thought we could stay the night in a nearby motel. She was surprised and delighted and insisted that we spend the night. She cooked us a wonderful dinner and a breakfast you wouldn't believe the next day.

She gave me a cream pitcher and a sugar bowl that my Aunt Julia, my father's middle sister, had painted, and sent us home with a large bag of home grown pecans. Bless her heart, she built up my ego with memories of me. Every year until she died, she sent up a big bag of shelled pecans. Wish I could remember the city that she lived in.


In 1995, we wisely decided to move near to our family while we were able to make all the decisions ourselves although we knew we would miss our friends and the weather in Phoenix. Relying on our daughters to pick a place, they chose Lexington, Kentucky. From the first, we were satisfied. Now we find it a blessing. When Amy lost her brave battle with cancer, our whole family was there for each other. That was so comforting.

Jo, Susan, Hal and I joined together with Mary's complete family at her gravesite in Columbus for a memorial service. Some day Hal and I will also share a Pinney plot. Mable, Joe, Mary and Helen Louise will be together again ‑just as it should be.


Through the years, I grew to love my Perrine relatives. They truly are an interesting and unusual group of people. I am satisfied with all my in-laws. They are all first rate.


Recently, a new group of people has come into my life. They are living members of my birth family. They have shared their memories of my parents and seven brothers and sisters.

A daughter of my sister Bertha, Reva Kiersey and her husband, Richard, were the first to visit me. To my surprise we did not meet like strangers. I felt like an aunt to my niece. Before we parted, after a good‑bye hug, Reva whispered, "I love you." I will never forget the feeling that came over me.

Several weeks later, to my delight, Howard Williams, Reva's brother, and his wife, Virginia, were able to spend time with us. He, too, made me aware that I was accepted as a family member. When he asked if he could call me Aunt Helen, it was a touching moment as I gladly said, "Please do."

In October, I welcomed nieces two weeks in a row. First came Virginia Smith and Jane Koenig and their husbands. Virginia and Jane are daughters of my brother, Elmer, who was put in the same orphanage that I was placed in by our mother. I will never forget the warm hugs I gave and received. Susan, Hal, and I sat enthralled as we heard the happenstance story that enabled their father to be reunited with his Potter family.

When the two girls left I was happy with the knowledge that they, as well as their two cousins, Howard and Reva, had chosen worthwhile life companions. My feelings about in‑laws are thankfully still true.

Next came Mary Heistand and her daughter, Debbie Hadesh, my sister, Marjorie's, daughter and granddaughter. They had stopped at Jo's house in Cincinnati the night before, and Jo called to say that they were very sweet and I would love them. How right she was!

I again loved on sight. I had another big moment when I realized that I hugged, for the first time, a fourth generation Oberley, Debbie Hadesh. (My birth mother, Bernice, was an Oberley.) I wished Bernice could know it. Possibly she does. Mary and Debbie told interesting tales of her life and pointed out similarities of the two of us. They gently pushed me a little closer to her.

I am greedy and want all the brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews and in‑laws that I can get, but I hold dear in my heart the parents who chose me, Joe and Mable Pinney. I will always thank Bernice and Mason for giving me life. God willing, other branches of the Oberley and Zimmerman families will come to see me. I'll never give up hope.

If, with the aid of a computer, Teresa, Susan and Jo hadn't decided to give me this special gift for my 90th birthday in March, 2003, I would have missed out on an important part of my life. It wasn't an easy task for them. It took months of investigation and lots of travel time. I hope they know how grateful I am.

I have a dream that Mary and our togetherness will not be forgotten by either of our families. I am asking our great‑grandchildren to do their best to keep the Ostborgs and Perrines to keep in touch. This can be done if two or three of the older ones, who have been told our story, decide to become pen pals. It should be fun and rewarding and also please two people who loved them very much.

My angel keeps whispering, "Don't forget to tell them." So I will: Mary Helen would be a great name for a daughter.

Being a part of four families has given me many insights to life and made mine more interesting and continues to do so. Each of you has a special place in my heart.

God bless you all.