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Memories of Grandpa and Grandma Jungas

by Frank Jungas

Part 2

I remember in the store we sold electric bulbs and they came in a wooden barrel type-of-thing, with slats, so we'd test them as we'd send them out. One time this person brought these bulbs back and said, "They're no good." So I took them to Grandpa and I said, "We'll have to send them back when we get our next freight so we can get credit for them." He said, "Well, who brought them in?" and I told him---I won't mention any names. And he said, "No, I tested those bulbs when I sold them to him." So I said to Grandpa, "But Grandpa, he's even a deacon in the church." And he shook his finger in my face and he said, "Frankie, sometimes you can't even trust the preachers!" So that taught me a big lesson right there.

Also he had a story about compromise. He says, "I'll tell you this story about compromise," so he told me this. "It was in the spring of the year that a hunter was going to go out and get himself a bear because he had to have a new fur coat. In those days it was when animals could talk to people, so he went out to look for a bear. He saw this bear, and the bear came out of hibernation really hungry, looking for something to eat. The bear said "Now, what do you want?" And the hunter said, "I want to have a new fur coat." "Well", the bear said, "here, sit down on this log with me and we'll talk it over." So they sat down and talked it over and about half an hour later the bear got up and left, and the hunter had his fur coat and the bear had his full stomach." And I thought that was really a good story! Grandpa taught me a lot.

We had to live with the family to get through the depression during the late 20's and early 30's, and we had a barn on our place where Dad and Mother lived and a hay mound. So we'd cut hay and alfalfa--we had it in about a three-acre field right across from where we are here--and it was all done by hand. We had to scythe it down and rake it together and dry it and haul it up to my dad's barn and put it up in the hay loft for feeding the cow in the wintertime. We had to take care of the cow and when we milked the cow, we'd have to take the milk up to Grandma and she divided it up. What happened after that I don't know, but I know we always had to take it up to Grandma. Then the cow would have a calf every spring and so I had to take this calf along the railroad tracks where we lived and there was a lot of grass there for the calf to eat. So I'd take it out and stake it there and let the calf eat and bring it home again and put it in the barn.

Frank and his calf

I tell you, I got so friendly with the calf that I could hardly stand it the day they said, "We'll have to kill the calf today to get some veal to eat." And, boy, I was really upset. I remember asking Mother, "Mother, do calves go to heaven?" And she assured me that they did, so I just had to be quiet. So what they did---they didn't have any freezers in those days; they had to can everything--so she had to cut it up in jars and cook it or whatever they do, and can it, and then it was put down in the basement for the wintertime. It was good in the wintertime when she opened up one of those jars and would grind the meat up and make kind of a spread out of it. We'd put it on rye bread or zwieback, and it was really good. I remember I was so sorry about that calf and it almost brought me to tears, but life had to go on so that was the way it was in those days. It was really a struggle. Everyone had to work together to make it go.

I know we had a terrific big garden and we had a great big plot of potatoes that I had to keep hoeing all the time. Then in fall we'd dig out the potatoes and take them down in the basement so we'd have some potatoes. And Mother would can beans and peas and other vegetables that were in the garden because it had to be. We wouldn't have lived otherwise. That's what worries me now. If something would happen now with the younger generation, I'm worried that they could never settle down and do something like we were doing to stay alive. It was work.

I'd come home after school and I'd take two pails--#10 pails, they were called in the language of pails; there were l0's and 12's and even 14's, I guess, but these were smaller pails--and I'd start walking east (we lived on the other side of the tracks) and I'd start walking east along the tracks and pick up coal that had fallen off the train when it went through. So that would help us keep the fire going through the night because in those days we would burn wood and that didn't keep the fire going very well at night. So I'd pick up a pail and I'd get it full, and then I'd set it down and then I'd go still further with the other pail and fill it up. Then I'd come back to get the first pail and bring them both back. Dad had built a little bin in the barn there and I'd dump the coal into that. Then in the cold wintertime he'd bring some coal in along with the wood and then he would put it in the stove we had--the Heatrola (not sure if that is the correct name--Jo). That was a wonderful heating stove we had. We had it in the middle of the living room and I know as kids we would put on our pajamas and take and run upstairs as fast as we could and jump into bed. I know Grandma had made me a feather bed to sleep on and also one to cover up with. So I'd curl up and pull this feather bed up over me and I would slowly let my feet go down and straighten out, and before you'd know it I would be straightened out. It was so cold in my room that sometimes I'd take a glass of water upstairs and set it on the windowsill and by morning it was all frozen. It was always about 20' below zero in those days there. And there was a lot of snow!

(To be continued)