Jessie (age 57) is recovering from a lengthy hospital stay for a sore back and is about to return to her job at Kilpatrick’s Department store in Omaha. Her husband Harry (age 60, who she refers to as Daddy), a boilermaker’s helper at Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha, was busy building an enclosed front porch for their home in Council Bluffs, Iowa, when he got sick.
Other people mentioned this week include Harry and Jessie’s daughter, Agnes Grosvenor (37), who lives across the street with her husband, Jack Grosvenor (40) and their three children – Judy (18), Linda (16) and Jackie (3). Another daughter Phyllis (35) lives in Pasadena California, with her husband, Don Lidikay (42). Also mentioned are their oldest son, Walter (referred to as Jack, age 38), his wife Elsie (36), their youngest child, Calvin (29), Dr. Pedersen, Dr. O’Neil and Dr. Arta (Harry’s doctors), Rev. Miller (their pastor) and Ida and Ernie Jensen and Vern Welch (friends).
May 6, 1959 (Wednesday)
“Daddy was sick to his stomach about 2 a.m. Bless him, he is so sweet to care for, does anything you want. Jack G. shaved him, got him cleaned up. Jack L. brought order for doctor, he filled out form for sick pay. Daddy signed it, did a good job. He watched the clock, wanted to get up and get ready to go have cardiogram. Jack G. took us up, got a wheelchair so it wasn’t so bad today. They got him in at 1 p.m., he laid down. No report yet from x-rays, I have called 3 times, doctor was supposed to call. Agnes brought over vegetable soup, rhubarb. Daddy ate 2 bowls soup, 1 bowl rhubarb, 2 glasses malted milk, 2 cookies, slice of meat, crackers & honey. He is sitting up, reading now. Seems to be about the same. Ray came; Agnes took him home. Daddy sat up about 3 hours. I gave him an enema and bath, put him to bed. The children are so wonderful. I thank the Lord for them.”
May 7, 1959 (Thursday)
“Daddy didn’t sleep so well last night. He was sick again at 3 a.m., again at 6:30 when I got him up for breakfast. Really did vomit then. I believe it was too much soup last night. We had to get up early on account of going over to see Dr. O’Neil. He said everything is fine, he won’t need to see him anymore. Dr. Pedersen called. Heart normal, x-rays don’t show anything wrong. He said he thinks it is an emotional strain. He is coming this p.m. to see him, going to give him medication, see if it can help him. Calvin took us to Omaha. Jack & Elsie were there a while. Agnes runs in and out so much, hope she doesn’t get down. The children are so wonderful, what would I do without them? Dr. Pedersen came about 3:30, told Daddy the reports were all good, nothing serious wrong. He is going to give him some pills. We got them – take one, four times a day. They should help him. He ate a fair supper, sure was better when he got up to eat. Ida & Ernie was over, Agnes & Jack & Jackie came over. Judy is staying with us tonite. Phyllis will be here in the morning. I am so glad.”
May 8, 1959 (Friday)
“This has been a bad day. Judy and I got up at 6:30 a.m. They all went over to [train station to] meet Phyllis. So good to see her and have her home. Jack G. came over and shaved Daddy. I cleaned up his bed, he has been down all day. Did manage to get him to eat his lunch, completely out this p.m. The doctor said it was his medicine, 4 tablets a day, too much. I got a little chicken broth down him. The doctor came down to see him this evening. Calvin was here, so was Jack & Elsie. Jack L. was down this evening. Daddy has slept most all day. It is 10 p.m..Judy is over here, going to leave. Agnes has to take Jack to work. Our minister was here again today. I washed out a few pieces by hand, ironed some. Just can’t settle myself. Phyllis went over to Omaha with Agnes to take Jack to work. I am going to bed about 11:30. It’s raining.”
May 9, 1959 (Saturday)
“Daddy slept good all night. We got up late. He had a good breakfast, seems better this morning after he took his pill. He rested, got up this afternoon, stayed up a long time. … I am going to write up his minutes for union meeting so Vern can take them over. Vern called, said he will be over to see Daddy one of these nights.”
May 10, 1959 (Sunday)
“Daddy had a restless night. After breakfast I gave him an enema & bath, gave him his pill, put him to bed. He had a good breakfast. Calvin & family came to see Daddy and tell Phyllis goodbye. Jack L. also came by to see Daddy & Phyllis. The children remembered me on this Mother’s Day, God bless them. A sad day for me. I know God will take care of Daddy. He isn’t feeling as good as yesterday. Agnes & family are in and out to see him. If love will help, he sure has the love. It is after 10 p.m. He was up awhile, drank some malted milk. I gave him his pill, he is in bed now. I am going to bed. Dear God, give him rest this nite. Phyllis is leaving tonite. Agnes is taking her to the train.”
May 11, 1959 (Monday)
“10:30 p.m. This is a heartbreaking day. Dr. Pedersen came this evening, seen Daddy when he was awake. After talking to him, asking questions, said we would have to hospitalize him for treatments while there is a chance to help him. I am stunned, actually numb. All I can say, order is useless. I just ask God to take over and supply his every need according to his will. It was a beautiful day, so far as weather was concerned. Daddy had a fair nite, was up once with him, I believe. He was restless. I never went to sleep until after 12:30, was up at 3 a.m. with Daddy so I am all in, so sleepy. Cleaned the house today. Washed front porch door and a few of the windows. So much yard work to be done. I have to be getting back to work now so I can have something coming in. Judy is 18 years old today, not much of a birthday for her. We just gave Daddy half a sleeping pill. He has quieted down. Hope he sleeps tonight.”
May 12, 1959 (Tuesday)
“A gloomy day. Rained during the night again, so cloudy all around. Daddy had a restless night, moaned & groaned, tossed & turned, didn’t care to eat his breakfast, very little at that. He is so weak. Complains of his bowels. I know he must be in misery, he holds his bowels and makes a terrible face. Jack L. got his check for me. Jack G. just shaved him. I am waiting for the doctor to call. Just can’t settle down to do anything. God bless him and take over, just supply his need according to thy will. Judy stayed with me last nite, got to bed 1 o’clock. 9:45 p.m. I am staying with Agnes. My dear Daddy is in the hospital, so hard to leave him, just breaks my heart. I know now he is going to get some attention and help. He is in Richard Young Memorial Hospital, took him over at 4 p.m. Agnes & Jack took him over. I went up to his room with him, going to take a sleeping pill, see if I can get some sleep. Dr. John Arta is his doctor. Rev. Miller was to see Daddy today. Dear God, take care of him, supply his every need.”
Larry Lehmer is a professional personal historian and chief legacy planner at When Words Matter, Ltd., who connects generations through their stories. To learn more, visit his web site, send him an e-mail or follow him on Twitter.