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Grandpa & Grandma Jungas Stories From Edna

Sent in by Betty

(This is a story by Edna, one of the cousins that Grandpa and Grandma Jungas took in.)

The Sunday afternoons I remember involved family activities, usually planned by the older girls at the noon dinner table. Stores were closed and no one worked, with even the meal of cold fruit soup (moos), ham, and rye bread having been prepared the day before.

One particular Sunday the big sisters wrote a play, and we were all expected to be in it. I'll forever remember my part, although I have no idea of what the rest of the story was about or what I wore as I made my entrance. When someone told me it was my turn, I bravely walked into a room where a person sat on a chair. I saluted the chief with two words, "Chief Madam." At that moment everyone laughed, and I started to cry. "But you told me I should say that", I cried. Later I learned that it was "Chief Massasoit" I was supposed to salute, but for me the story had ended unhappily.

In spring, Dad would take all of us for a hike along the tracks to pick the flowers. The crocuses were plentiful and large pails were filled with the short-stemmed flowers. At home we later arranged them in big bowls for the center of the table.

What we did on Sunday afternoons changed with the seasons. In winter when the snowdrifts were piled high among the evergreen trees in our garden, we pretended they were mountains as we stomped up and down on the hard frozen snow. It was an enriching experience to grow up in a big family because of the simple, creative ways we spent our Sunday afternoons together.

When I try to analyze the fears I experienced as a child, I only know they were very real-- like the times I stayed indoors when the caravan of gypsies came into town, and I imagined the women with their long colorful flowing gowns would steal little girls, hide them under the wide loose sleeves of their blouses, cover them with their big shawls and take them away, never to be seen by the family again.

A Minnesota thunderstorm was frightening too, and when my Dad and the town Marshall sat on a bench in front of the hotel to talk and watch the streaks of flashing light zigzag across the night sky, I found a safe place between them so the lightning couldn't get me.

However, the uneasiness I felt about the skull my Dad brought back from the rolling hills of Montana was something a 5-year-old child couldn't talk about. It was on one of several train trips my father made to take care of his farmland that he dug up the remains of an Indian while plowing the field for wheat planting near Fraser. I did not believe he meant to alarm us, but his desire was to share his unusual discovery with the family. He told us that Indians had such good teeth because they ate the right food, therefore they did not need to brush. The significance of that face gave way to my lack of interest to see if that was true.

Somehow we soon learned that the bony frame of the head of the unknown man was placed in a barrel in a basement storage area. My imagination went into over-drive as I raced past that ominous barrel, afraid of an encounter with the displaced ghost of a Sioux Warrior wishing he had been left on his happy hunting grounds.

Years later when I was about 13, we moved to the home apartment above the hardware store Dad Jungas rebuilt after the big fire of 1920. Along with everything that had to be hauled into the new basement, there was one barrel with the carefully covered skull finding another resting place. By this time I had accepted this Indian as almost being a part of the family, and I paid no more attention to the barrel or to where it was kept.

When my father passed away at the age of 76, my three sisters and I had to take care of his personal possessions. Somehow, someone removed the skull from the barrel and placed it in my sister's suitcase. Frieda was going to her home in Oregon, and she had no idea what she would do with the specimen she had inherited. Her husband helped her make that decision because he felt thatIndian deserved to be put to rest. He dug a deep hole in their back yard and buried the skull with the respect of a close friend. If the new owners of that property ever discover the burial place, they undoubtedly will wonder what the skull of an Indian was doing on Cherry Street in Dallas, Oregon.