Remembering The Good Life

BY ELIZABETH KIRPOLSKY MAREK

Source: The Valley Gazette (date unknown)

Mrs Marek recalled that living in Mahoning provided these notes for background for a picture of the students, taken about 1934.

In 1934 we moved to Mahoning Valley. I had just finished 5th grade at St. Mike’s. Marty was two years old.

I was assisting in teaching first grade, because I was ahead of my grade because of being much more advanced in school. They used visual aid cards, which was very up to date at that time.

My brother Joe got a prize for making the nicest mother’s day gift — two paper plates, one whole, one cut in half and sewn together with yarn and drawn on.

We had outside toilets behind the school. The winter of ’35 Joe and Celia had scarlet fever and Dr. Weisner from Mantzville was the only Dr. Our house was quarantined and we were all home from school. The first day off quarantine we ploughed through shoulder high snow drifts to walk the half mile to school, only to find we were the only ones there and there was no school. Our teacher couldn’t get through from Leighton. School ended the end of May there. School was heated by huge wood-burning stove at the back of the school. This was all new to us_ We especially disliked the outside plumbing.

I guess that was the only thing we didn’t like about our life on the farm. We belonged to the 4-H club and my brother planted tomatoes and Helen and I had sewing projects. We made aprons with every stitch made by hand. Then the big treat was displaying our handywork at the Lehighton fair.

We raised chickens and ducks and had all kinds of fun with baby chicks and collecting the eggs. Our chickens were the best-fed chickens in the valley because we all fed them all the time every day.

Our grandfather lived with us and Marty was just learning to talk. Needless to say most of it was in Slovak from Starecek the grandfather. We went down the street to Ebberts to get our milk and we loved watching them milk the cows and strain the milk and Marty would go with us to see the cows. The men who were milking asked Marty questions and the answer to everything was Atm! Ano!

Milk was 7 cents a quart and we had to carry our milkpail with us to be filled. During the summer we went to picnics at Mantzville and all the cakes and watermelons that we won were taken to one house and then we had a party with them. The school owned a croquet set and only six people could play so it was always a scramble for mallets during recess.

We thought picking cherries and planting and weeding a half acre was a breeze. The only thing that was tiresome and messy was picking and cleaning currants. That year we, meaning mom mostly, canned every vegetable and fruit imaginable, made chow chow, piccalili, mustard pickles, and a half dozen other kinds of pickles, and tomatoes, catsup, tomato cocktail, tomato juice, chili sauce and strawberry, currant and peach jelly. Mom made strawberry jelly by the sun one summer, but it was a job keeping the flies away.

We had a patch of asters behind the garage that was so full that we took armfuls of them to the Palmerton Hospital and gave them to every visitor that came to see us. Mom canned beef, pork. Eggs sold for 25 cent for two dozen and almost every egg had a double yolk.

Because her father had trouble getting to work in bad weather, especially during that big snow storm, Mrs Kiripolsky explained, the family moved back to Lansford but the fond memories of life on the farm remain.