Saturday, August 1, 2015

A First-Hand Look at Little Becky and Dennis, age 2

For the last year I’ve been acting as “Conservator” for my father’s estate, following his May 13, 2014 death. My work has involved sorting, organizing, scanning and archiving his life’s paperwork and photos. 

My dad was an accountant and a genealogist among his other interests and hobbies. He was born in 1921 in Kansas so he survived the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War II. He served in the Civilian Conservation Corps after his graduation from Hoisington High School in 1940. He was a guitarist who entertained as “The Sunflower Wrangler”, singing and playing published and original Western Swing songs on KVGB Radio in Great Bend, Kansas and at dance venues in that area. It was at one of those dances that he met my mother, Ruby Nadine Flanders, then 17 years old and a student at Stafford High School, Stafford, Kansas. Dad completed his first year in the US Army in 1942 while Ruby finished high school, and on 9 July, 1943 he came home and married my mother. Until Fall, 1945 when Dad returned home at the close of WWII, my mother Ruby resided with my dad’s parents, John and Mollie Margheim in Hoisington, KS. Upon his Army discharge, they moved to Great Bend, KS and each were employed at Thies Packing Company as bookkeepers.

On 5 Nov 1947 my twin brother, Marion Dennis Margheim and I were born at St. Rose Hospital. By the Fall of 1949 my mother had decided she no longer wanted to be married to Dad, or to live at home with me and Dennis. She moved to Manhattan, Kansas. My dad’s parents opened their home to Dad, Dennis and I, so we moved to Hoisington where Grandma could take care of us while Dad worked at the meat packing plant. In 1949 my dad’s sister LaVerna had been out of Hoisington High School for 2 years, was living at home while working in a local music store, and was teaching piano lessons on her grand piano in their home.  

As I continue with my “archival” efforts, I spent some time last Saturday sorting through a plastic tote that I had packed several years ago, condensing other totes to fit in a closet. As I dug through the plastic bin, I recognized items I’d saved, such as things Dad sent home to my mother from Germany, photos from grade school, baby shoes, silverware, and rattles that my Grandma Margheim had saved for us over the years, and other family treasures like that. But this time in that bin, I found something I don’t remember ever seeing before. I’m stumped because I have a pretty good memory for things like letters, notebooks, registers, diaries, etc, being the strong left-brain thinker that I am. I spotted this envelope.
  You can see that it’s a letter sent by my dad, Ernest L. Margheim to Ruby N. Margheim in Manhattan, Kansas, dated May 8, 1950, about the time that their divorce was final. The letter is a friendly correspondence, as Dad reports to our mother his recent activities with friends. What makes the letter especially interesting to me is that he also writes quite a bit about Dennis and me, reporting on our behavior and activities too.
In May 1950 Dennis and I were 2-1/2 years old. You can see in the photo above that I'm wearing my favorite white boots. 
Here are some samples of his writing to her about me and my brother. Since they are hard to read, I'll transcribe the paragraphs.
"The kids are well and happy as ever, the(y) kiss and hug daddy as he leaves and kiss and love him when he returns and sure are glad to see me come back from wherever I go - like Tuesday night to the Saddle club. I left them about 8:30 and next morning the(y) said There is Daddy home from meeting. And as the(y) kiss me goodby when I leave they say Daddy come home - guess they got that from me telling them at first that I was coming back home to them soon. Yesterday when one of LaVerna's students drove up, Dennis run and called Grandma to come see - and said Who is that? Mom asked who is it Dennis, and he replied - "Lores" - she was Deloris and tis sumpin to marvel at the way they remember the girls names that come to the house and this girl Clara from Galatia - she and the twins get along real fine too - and on her last lesson they were both at the piano and counted with Clara - folks said sure was sumpin to hear Clara and the twins count 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 - they get a kick out of it. Yep - they still play - and piano too - and When I practice my part in the choir hymns they sing along - especially Becky - she gets a sorta frown on her face and REALLY SINGS - ha ha -- they pull up each a chair and sit on the west end of the bench so they can see too -- they say "let's see" -- they want to look on the book too!!"
"Last evening they were out in the yard playing with Grandpa and with the two kids from over east (neighbors) every once in a while Becky came running in the house nearly exhausted saying -Becky tired -and brush her hair upon her forehead then took off running - stopping to say GOODBYE - and waving she took off running again - she did that about five times in the course of an hour or so. They look at the little animal books they got for Xmas and read them - and play with their shovels and wagons every day. And with their rubber balls - throwing them and running after them - and they take a nap each afternoon - just take off their boots or shoes and socks and crawl on the bed, saying Denny or Becky tired - ha! TALK all time!"
"And they like to put on clean clothes in the morning -- they remember what they wore the day before and if it is soiled - Becky says - Clean One -- Get Clean dress - with the SSSSS on the dress. And you should hear Becky call Aunt LaVerna - she really calls it our Aunt Verna -a-a-a ! she usually calls. And Becky can say Groceries real cute and they both go along with their Aunt LaVerna to get Groceries at the store - and Sister said they behave real good in the store - 'Tother evening at supper we had boiled potatoes and corn etc. Becky was eating corn and grandpa asked 'Becky, do you want some potatoes'? She kept right on eating her corn and said Becky Busy - sorta frowning and saying it with emphasis to let him know she was busy and him not to bother her when she was eating. They both love macaroni - fixed in any way shape or form and eat balanced meals, they call for the meat or bread just like they were grown up. Sure am proud of them!!
"Hamilton's seemed thrilled over my joining the saddle club and talking of getting the shirts for the kids and Mrs. Hamilton said - don't go to any extra bother - surely they have some white shirts or Becky a blouse and just get the red emblems (saddles) and sew them on the back - and let them wear the white boots they wear now occassionally wear -- Denny wears his brown shoes most of the time anymore - But Becky likes her boots and she walks and runs in them real nice."
Dennis and Becky, holding hands as we often did, with our Cheyenne Saddle Club emblems on our white shirts, as referenced in the letter above.

We are holding hands with our Aunt LaVerna who rode with us in the parade with the Cheyenne Saddle Club
Dennis and Becky are pictured here in 1949 with our Grandpa and Grandma Margheim and our Aunt LaVerna in front of their house in Hoisington, KS. 
I feel so very blessed to have found this letter and glad it's still very readable. How many people have written documentation that offers a first hand view into their daily life as a 2 year old? And from the view point of a very loving, devoted, proud father! It not only shows a bit of my personality, along with my twin brother, but it shows the "graciousness" held by my father at a difficult time in his life, having become a single father at that same time. I'll close with this photo of Dennis and me with our precious dad, Ernest Margheim in front of our grandparents' home. 


Haz said...


Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

Absolutely precious Becky!

Les said...

Wonderful post Becky. your dad was a true gentleman and I so loved his stories. take care , Lester L. said...

What am fascinating account of your early life. Truly a lucky thing to come upon those tangible links to your own past.I have been finding myself exploring the neighbourhood I lived in with my parents when I was a baby.They had a rough start and I have lots of questions.....

Sue McCormick said...

Wonderful to have Becky!

Michele Jaynes said...

I love the way he write'sumpin' ! Lol very sweet and a peek into your past. A complete treasure.

Michelle Ganus Taggart said...

What treasures! The pictures are priceless and then to have her record about you is really awesome. It's great it was recorded for you to enjoy and share.