GRANDMA'S DIARIES • February 1953: Too Many Deaths


February brings the loss of loved ones. Henry Eckhoff, a long time neighbor, passed away early in February. Later a family friend, Bert Pope, died. Grandma's brother, Jesse Newport, passed away after a brief illness. This loss was probably the hardest for Grandma. She and Jesse were very close. Their parents, Emerald and Ella (Wade) Newport had four children. Harley Newport was the oldest. Then came Maud (Newport) Mundhenk, and Jesse Newport. Grandma, Mary Edith (Newport) Best, was the youngest of the children. Jesse's wife died when their children, Leslie and Irene, were very young, so Grandma became a kind of surrogate mother to them. Leslie passed away when he was a young man. Irene (Newport) Knodle) remained very close to Grandma and regarded her as much more than just an aunt. Grandma filled the role of caregiver for the whole family. She brought Ella, her mother,into her home and took care of her until her death. Later, Grandma  cared for her father who continued to live in Fillmore. She would leave home on Sunday and spend the weekdays at his house caring for his needs. I never heard her express a regret about her role. She was such a loving  and strong woman.

Sunday, Feb. 1, 1953–Nice but cooler. Wayne's came for dinner. They brought our three-quarter bed home. Father bought the bedstead from Luther's sale before 1900. Wayne's went to the new home to wax the kitchen floor.

Monday, Feb. 2, 1953–Nice day. The ground freezes a bit at night. Clear nearly all day, so groundhog could see his shadow. Carl took a treatment from Dr. Krause. I washed two blankets beside the washing. Jesse is able to walk down the hospital corridor. The water from high winds is causing great damage in Holland.

Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1953–Another fine day. I ironed. We went after meat. I got a dollar hat. Carl went to the Novak trial awhile. Ella Ward, Shirley McBroom-Schmidt and Nannette Reddick and baby are back sick with the flu. We went to Wayne's and got linoleum to put around the living room rug. Dug carrots and parsnips. Ground is dry.

Thursday, Feb. 5, 1953–Cloudy. Sprinkled. Called Freda Nelson so we might hear from H.V. and Emma. Vivian is home, and they are better. Henry Eckhoff passed away about 4 a.m. at Hillsboro Hospital.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 1953–Clear, 30 degrees. Annual Farm Loan dinner and meeting. Carl thinks we better not go because of the flu. We went to Litchfield with eggs at 41 cents and to Dr. Krause in the a.m. then to Henry Eckhoff's funeral at 2 p.m. Mary Nimmons went with us. Lyle Gorman and Valetta Combs of Putnam Station, NY, married at 10 a.m. in Our Savior's Lutheran church.

Monday, Feb. 9, 1953–Cloudy. I washed anyway. Left my white clothes in the basket while we took Jimmy to the doctor. Margie went along. I kept Connie. She said, "I wannaCoke." We got one. I took up snapdragon plants. Wonder if they will live. Jimmy has the flu.

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 1953–Raining when we got up and kept it up all day. Carl went to Howard Hodges hog sale. It was held under cover. I went with Wes Burrises to the Home Bureau meeting at Dorothy Harris' house. Ruth Keith and Ione Streight also went. I had the minor lesson on jury service.

Sunday, Feb. 15, 1953–Nice day. We went to Hillsboro for a Sunday paper. We heard Lawrence Welk's music on WSMI. We sure liked his programs which we heard on Alberta's TV.

Tuesday, Feb. 17, 1953–18 degrees, 8 degrees reported. Sunshine. Nice day. I made a few quilt blocks. My right eye is very red. A broken blood vessel I guess. Jake Mutchler came on the Fordson and piled big fence posts in pasture. Irene Knodle called about 12:30 a.m. Jesse is worse. Wayne, Merle and Jim Ward hauled Wayne's 23 head of steers to St. Louis. 

Thursday, Feb. 19, 1953–Rained when we got up. Showered most of the morning. Carl took letter to the post office. I wrote to Alberta and Maud. I called Mrs. Knodle. No news from Jesse.

Friday, Feb. 20, 1953–Wayne Knodle called about 7:45 a.m. to tell me of Jesse's passing. I made a call to Fern for them to tell Fred Nelson and Bill Newport.

Saturday, Feb. 21, 1953–22 degrees at 7:30 a.m. I have hardly been out of doors all week because of my cold. My eye which has been so blood shot has about cleared up. We drove to the Allen Funeral Home in p.m. Mrs. Allen said Jesse's casket was solid walnut.

Sunday, Feb. 22, 1953–Wayne's ate dinner with us. Then Larry went to Dammons and Linda went to H. Turner's. Wayne, Geraldine, Merle and Margie and Carl and I went to Jesse's funeral at two at M.E. church. Bonnie Case couldn't come as she was expecting a grandchild which arrived Feb. 20. No kin folks there but my boys, their wives, Carl and I and Bill Newport.

Tuesday, Feb. 24, 1953–Chilly and cloudy. We went to Earl Wilson's closing out sale. I took two pies for the PTA who were serving the lunch. A large crowd. His only milk cow brought almost $300. Gilts brought $90. ATA chili supper at night, also the men gave a style show. Lots of laughs.

Wednesday, Feb. 25, 1953–Cloudy. Sprinkled a bit about 4:30. I dressed a hen, and we took it to Harley's. He looks better out of his eyes. We went to Butler first. Carl went to the Republican caucus. Ray Raines, Representative and Tony Held, Democrat nominees for supervisor. A Mr. Todt brought a Chevrolet for Carl to see. A good buy, I think.

Friday, Feb. 27, 1953–Nice spring weather. Carl wants to get stumps bulldozed out by the Wright place. After a lot of absences on Friday quiltings, I went this p.m. Working on two quilts for Mary Nimmons. She and Bob had gone to Missouri.

Saturday, Feb. 28, 1953–A man from Oakley  bulldozed out the hedge stumps. He charged $47.50. I went to Hillsboro after noon. Dollar day there. Carole went along. We went to library, then she took her accordion lesson at Community House. I called at Helen Skinn's, also at Hucker's TV opening. Linda was coming at night while her folks went to 22 club. She has a sore throat. None of them went. Wayne bought 40 head of shoats.

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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