By CARL SCHLEGEL
2For the first time, I gave some profound thought to those words and decided just for the heck of it to apply it to my personal life. I asked myself, "Are they really the same?" Well, hardly.
In order to establish some background to my origin, I will briefly digress and mention two of my favorite people who had such an influence on my life during my growing up years. My grandfather, Johan Schlegel, migrated from near Saratov, Russia, and grandmother, Maria Katrina Matal, came from Austria, both shortly after the end of the War Between the States.
The families homesteaded in an area that later developed into a large German-Bohemian settlement, covering much of east-central Rush, parts of southern Ellis and western Barton counties. Living within a couple of miles of each other, they became acquainted and married sometime before the turn of the century. Grandpa was German, and she was Bohemian, so I can claim belonging to both races.
My grandparents took me with them often when they went visiting and on shopping trips. Until about 1928, we traveled mostly by horse and buggy. Grandma also would take me with her grocery shopping at Jessup's in Otis, where she would buy me a sack of hardtack, including the old-fashioned horehound candy.
During the 1920s, the Ford Model T and disc wheel Chevrolets were showing up. My father bought a touring Model T.
Very few kids knew any English when they started school. To compound the problem, none of the teachers could speak German. If one wanted an education, one learned to speak English. There were no multilingual classes. My sister, Ruth, and I were so pleased when our older sister learned to read the Sunday "funny papers" for us.
Back then, we still had outside restrooms, no school buses or hot meals. The girls wore dresses or skirts, and the boys wore blue denim overalls right up through high school. Most of the country kids carpooled, but some still traveled by horseback and buggy.
Of course, during the 1930s with the bad wheat crops, cash flow was almost nonexistent. We had no bands or special activities such as senior proms or senior trips.
Whenever we could work up funds, as many as eight of us would pile into Studie Steitz's Model T sedan and drive to the "dime night" show at La Crosse on Thursday nights. We would siphon a couple of gallons of gasoline from one of the dads' tractors to make the trip. If we were unusually flush, we would buy the girls a hamburger and coke after the show for 10 cents and 5 cents, respectively.
During my school years, mamma cooked with a kerosene stove (called coal oil then). She had a flat top range to heat water for laundry. We had no electrical power on the farms, and I don't remember when we got the party line telephones.
The house was heated with a coal burner that went out during the night. We didn't have running water; the drinking water came in a pail with a dipper. When we forgot to empty the pail, the dipper would be frozen in the pail in the morning. Inevitably we would forget to empty the ink bottles, which would burst when they froze.
Every Saturday evening, the family went to town for haircuts, groceries and fraternizing. Late Saturday evening, all the stores closed until Monday, and nearly everyone went to church Sunday.
After high school, the football coach at Sterling College persuaded me to enroll at Sterling, which I did. The next fall, I enrolled at Kansas University, but I wasn't eligible for sports until I had attended one semester, so I eagerly anticipated the next football season. Just before practice was to start, my appendix went sour and, in December, Pearl Harbor happened, so in about one fell swoop there went my football and college careers.
Right after the holidays, several of us from Otis came to Hays to enlist. Soon I received notice "your friends and neighbors have selected you to report for induction." But I didn't object. The United States of America had been good to me; I felt I owed something back. I served nearly four years with the 7th Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division.
When I came home from war, the John Deere dealer in La Crosse hired me. Cars were hard to come by. That was disappointing because I wanted to ask Darlene out on a date but I had no wheels. I finally got so desperate I borrowed my sister's panel truck, which they used for deliveries. It had no passenger seat. Again in desperation I set a wooden apple box for her to sit on; my reasoning being if she would tolerate that, plans for developing that relationship would bear pursuing.
Darlene and I recently observed our 65th anniversary. It's been a great trip. Of course there have been disappointments and some heartache, but nothing that together we couldn't cope with.
During the Eisenhower recession, I lost my job, so we again milked cows and she delivered house to house in Otis. Our bank account was in a cigar box, but we managed to keep the wolf from the door until I got my job back about a year later.
Do things really stay the same? I think not.
Carl Schlegel lives in Hays with his wife, Darlene. They both grew up in Otis.