Travel was also part of the picture for Clint and Mary Troutman’s family. Of course the first long trip for the three oldest children was the train ride from Missouri to Nebraska about 1913, but even after settling in Nebraska, they continued taking shorter trips. “One time when I was a small boy,” Verne said, “I went to Minnesota on a train with Mother to see Grandma and Grandpa Waggoner. When we got there and started walking away from the train, I said, ‘We are going to walk home, now.’ My mother told me that, years later.”1
Virginia was included in that trip, too; her memories varied somewhat: “I remember looking out the train windows, as we crossed the Mississippi River, and being terribly frightened. But mother told us that when we went to bed that night [on the train] Verne looked up to her with his big blue eyes and said, ‘Mama, the kids don’t know we have a good bed, do they?’”2 According to Virginia, Verne was four and she was two on this trip.
Before Clint purchased their Model T, they drove to town in a wagon pulled by a team of horses. The Model T made travel easier for visits to family members in other counties. Mary’s sister, Amanda and her family lived near an Indian reservation in Thurston County. “Once we went on vacation to the Indian powwow at Winnebago, Nebraska, and stayed with my Aunt Amanda and Uncle Dallas and watched the Indians dance and cook puppy stew,” Verne recalled. “This was my favorite vacation, I guess.”3 Most likely, they drove the Model T on this vacation.
Fishing was also a part of the fun times: “We also went fishing to the Elkorn River several times. Once we went to Lake Andes, South Dakota and caught a lot of fish.”4 Usually, fishermen show off their catch with a smile, but the children in the photo below seem to be trying to ignore that big fish hanging from Carl's right hand.
|Carl, Virginia, James, Verne, and the big fish, c. 1924.|
Short trips could be just as much an adventure as long ones. Once a road trip turned a little scary when a storm came up suddenly. “When I was small we went to Pilger one time in the Model T and stayed till about dark. Came up a rain storm on the way home, and Dad pulled into a farm house drive way of a corn crib, [and] put on the side curtains of the Model T. It was thundering, lightning, and raining. He put chains on the Model T and pulled the mud home. No graveled roads at that time.”5 The corncribs had a drive through so you could pull a wagon into it and load it with corn. That’s where Clint would have found shelter to put the side curtains and chains on the car.
Always a favorite was the county fair, not just the midway, but the opportunity for the children to show their 4-H projects. This was a vacation, of sorts, since they stayed the whole week to take care of their animals. “We always went to the county fair.” Verne said. “I showed baby beef calves at the Wayne County Fair and had the Grand Champion steer at the fair in 1930. We had a 4-H club and stayed at the fair and slept in the loft of the barn.”6 What fun for a kid to sleep in the barn loft! Maybe, not so much for the adults.
|Verne's 4-H calves, c. 1930.|
Sundays also were special days. “Sundays we went to church and when we came home Mother had a good dinner.” Neville recalls. "My favorite meal was fried chicken, potatoes, gravy, Jell-O salad and pie. I forgot a vegetable. Mother had a garden. We had green beans, peas, corn, squash, potatoes and sometimes my Dad tried raising watermelons. We went to Grace Methodist church in the country. We had Sunday School. My dad took us in a Model T. We had ice cream socials by lantern light. The homemade ice cream and cake were so good. I can still remember how good the cakes smelled. I remember my Sunday School teacher. She was short. One time she sat by me in church. I had grown as tall as she was. Her name was Mrs. Montgomery. On Easter we went to church early.8 Neville wasn’t so tall herself, not more than about 5’ 2” or so. (Her children may correct me on this.)
|Verne, James, Carl, Virginia, Neville, & unknown in back, c. 1924.|
Cleanliness was, of course, next to godliness. A boy couldn’t go to church with dirty ears. Verne found out the hard way: “Another time we started to the country church. I was about 8-9 years old. Got up the road a little ways, Mother examined my neck and ears and put me out and I had to go back home because they were dirty. I was little enough I was afraid and stayed around the corn crib till they came home.”9 I wonder what it was about the corn crib that felt safer than the house.
Whether it was work, play, or travel, Clint and Mary and their children made life an adventure on the farm in the 1920s in Nebraska.
1 Verne Troutman, “Grandpa Verne’s Story,” edited by Z. T. Noble, computer files, “Dad’s Story2.”
2 Nelsen, Virginia, Rogers, Arkansas, to Zola Noble, letter, 4 August 2000, stories of her life; Virginia Nelsen letters, box; privately held, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
3 Verne Troutman, “Grandpa Verne’s Story.”
7 Neville Troutman, “Neville’s Memory Book with Virginia’s Memories of Country School,” compiled by Sharon Lamson, Troutman Family Newsletter: This One’s a Keeper!, 1998, Troutman: Family Newsletters and Other Historical Info, binder, privately held, Z. T. Noble [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana, 2016.
9 Verne Troutman, “Grandpa Verne’s Story.”