GRANDMA'S DIARIES • April 1954: Grandpa’s Cataract Surgery


"Grandma's Diary" readers are the best! Carole Huber, Judy Tucker and Shari Lipe all knew what  the "ham" was that Grandma mentioned. It is a fat, little pillow shaped like a ham that enables the seamstress to iron curved seams.  April is centered on Grandpa's cataract surgery which was quite an ordeal. He entered the hospital on April 12 and wasn't released until April 21. It is amazing that now this procedure  is on an outpatient  basis.. Grandma even had to hire a private nurse to stay with Grandpa through the night. I remember  helping  her during the day by sitting and reading to him while she attended to other business and staying with her at night. As a 12-year-old, I thought of the whole episode as a grand adventure with the two of them.

Friday, April 2, 1954–Wayne and Jake (Mutchler) came and put on the pasture fence and made four panels of boards for a lot fence. George and Fern (Best) came at almost 12 p.m. I got off to quilting about two. Mary Nimmons went along but she didn't quilt. I gave her two small doilies, and she gave me material for an apron. Carole came for the week.

Saturday, April 3, 1954–So chilly. Carole and I took the cream and eggs to Litchfield. Eggs were 33 cents for Grade A. After noon Carl wanted to see the man for auto insurance. The company thinks we have had too many accidents. Well, some woman backed away from the curb and into our car. Then Woodrow Harris backed his truck into the car. The only accident Carl caused was when he knocked a headlight out when he ran into the sheriff's parked car. We all went to the field and burned out a fence row.

Sunday, April 4, 1954–We all went to church and Sunday School. Took Carole home about three and went on to Cleotis Bethard's in Morrisonville. He wasn't home. Came back past Wayne's. Rained a bit and hailed some. Connie said, “Oh, look at the ice cubes.”

Monday, April 5, 1954–Cloudy. Got up to 82 degrees. I washed and finally got them dry when the sun came out. I washed the curtains for the front room and dining room. Those in the living room are almost past using. Must get new ones.

Tuesday, April 6, 1954–Got my window curtains all dry and hung up though they had a good many holes. Anyway they are clean.

Wednesday, April 7, 1954–Mrs. Keith came while John went to the ATA meeting. The ATA men voted to build an outside stove out of brick. They also accepted a gift of hedge wood to be sawed up from Carl. I made garden. The wind blowed so hard it made my head ache. Farm Bureau men came to sell hail insurance on wheat, $15.52, and accident insurance on hired help on the farm, $15.05. This hail insurance is also good in case of fire in the wheat field. 

Thursday, April 8, 1954–Cold. Carl wanted to sow more seed on the 20 acres of wheat. He didn't get going until after 1 p.m. He lost a pin out of the drive tube on the seeder, but the two of us got it going. I went to Taylorville to get two dozen gladioli bulbs at Bill Newport's. Supposed to be very good ones. Took three small checks to the bank. Carl has $746.05 in the bank, and I have $466.90 in the Hillsboro bank.

Friday, April 9, 1954–We went to Raymond and had Herman Motor Co. put a new rear view mirror on the Ford, $5.50. Carl broke it when he backed out of the garage. The insurance company is supposed to pay it. 

Saturday, April 10, 1954–What a busy day! We took the cream and eggs to Litchfield, .37 for eggs. Went on to Hillsboro courthouse and voted absentee ballots for the primary April 13. Washed after noon and ironed at night. Spaded some along the edge of the garden. Opened up some furrows in case of a wet spell. I patched.

Monday, April 12, 1954–Got dinner for Merle and Campbell. Merle dried the dishes, and we left for St. John's Hospital about 12 noon. Took Dr. Douglas' note to Dr. Duncan's office. Left suitcase at Kate Best's. No money given out as Blue Cross Insurance pays part. Carl has room 625 on sixth floor. I ate lunch with Kate and went back to hospital at 7 p.m., stayed until 8 and walked back to Kate's. She worried about my safety Seems to be a risk to be on the street alone after dark. To bed at 11 p.m. Carl has no matches, but Dr. Duncan says he can smoke. I finally obtained two.

Tuesday, April 13, 1954–Good breakfast at Kate's. Got to hospital at 8:30. Carl went to the operating room at 2:20. Nurse gave him a pill about 1:45. Brought him back at 3:40. Merle, Wayne, and Geraldine stayed with me until after the operation. About nine nurses and aides and one nun came along with the gurney to put him in bed. Both eyes bandaged. At 4:30 Dr. Duncan came. Took bandages off of left eye. Doctor says he must be flat on his back for 6 hours. Then he can turn his head only on the left side. Geraldine and I ate dinner uptown.

Wednesday, April 14, 1954–Ray Raines and Charlie Newport won out in the primary. Broth, custard and coffee for Carl. I got back at 7 a.m. to let Ina Stailey go home. Wayne hauled 152 bushels and 20 pounds beans to Nobbie's at Harvel, $3.66 per bushel, $557.54. Geraldine came after one p.m. I ate lunch at the coffee shop. Merle and Margaret came at 7 p.m. Thunder, lightning and rain. I paid Ina Stailey $14 for staying with Carl from 11 last night to 7 this morning. I took a cab at 11 p.m. for Kate's, 35 cents.

Friday, April 16, 1954–Carl ate his dinner while sitting in a chair. 

Saturday, April 17, 1954–Carole and I hurried to Litchfield with cream and eggs. Had lunch at home. Merle was here mowing the lawn. He ate with us. Went to Wayne's. Geraldine and Linda took us to see Carl. Came back to Wayne's where we looked at 170 head of shoats which were brought from Mississippi. All kinds, shapes and sizes. Carole and I ate supper at the White Cottage in Raymond.

Sunday, April 18, 1954–Wayne's went to Sunday School and church at Ware’s Grove 8:30 to 10:30. They came here, and we went to Raymond for dinner and on to St. John’s to see Carl. Katie and Glen were at Kate's. Betty sick there. Kate went to see Carl. Carole stayed with me at night. Carole said there were 118 at Sunday School. The most the Union Sunday School ever had in 19 years.

Monday, April 19, 1954–I took Carole to the bus at the corner. Geraldine took me to St. John’s. Carole again stayed with me.

Wednesday, April 21, 1954–I got back to St. John’s about 7:30. Dr. Duncan came at 8:15 and dressed his eye. Nurse gave us pads and tape to take home with us. I shopped up town until eleven. Ate dinner at Brach's. Geraldine came at one, and we came home. Linda was along, but she may have three-day measles.

Sunday, April 25, 1954–Number of towns are now on daylight saving time. Didn't go to Sunday School. Hot again today. We didn't go anywhere. Carole was told she must have her 4-H skirt ready for tomorrow night, so she brought orchid material and she made a gathered skirt with a band. She got half the button hole made and still had to put the hem in by hand. Moray and Della Ward were charivaried tonight.

Monday, April 26, 1954–Clear and hot. I had two weeks wash. About today, I put out one dozen glads from store next to path and one dozen Canterbury Company glads in next row east. Room for Bill Newport's east of the Canterbury’s. Charles Campbell came. Burned part of a brush pile which was the maple tree south of the chicken house and cleaned out the cow shed.

Wednesday, April 28, 1954–We left for Wayne's and Springfield about 8 a.m. Geraldine was ready. We waited about 20 minutes to see Doctor Duncan. He took the stitches, I think three, out of Carl's eye. Told him he didn't have to wear a pad over his eye after today. Gave him dark glasses to wear.

Thursday, April 29, 1954–Cool. George and Fern came at noon. We were eating dinner. They ate lunch with us. I plowed the west side of the garden. Carl says he could disk it in the morning. I was afraid he would get such an idea is why I did it. 

Friday, April 30, 1954–Carl's birthday, 77. Merle harrowed his potatoes that we planted March 26. Very near a perfect stand. Carl shut the big door on the north end of the shed. He is not supposed to do such things. Wayne planted soy beans.

Carole (Best) Brown of Golconda provides Journal-News readers with this glimpse of the past from her grandmother, Mary Edith (Newport) Best, Butler farm wife. Carole may be reached at


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