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“Give it to the chickens,” her father told her.
They wouldn’t touch it, either.
Her father suggested she feed the loaf to the hogs.
“I went and got a pitchfork and buried that bread because the hogs weren’t going to insult me, too,” Ellen recalled.
Their first car, in 1939, was a Ford, a used one that Clelland’s father later wrecked.
Her favorite car was a Durant. In one of the book’s many black and white photos, Clelland leans proudly against a fender of what is described as his “fun” car.
“The gearshift would go out,” Ellen told a small audience in her living room that included daughter Virginia Ritchey. “We’d all jump out of the car, remove the floorboard, fix the gearshift, put the floorboard back and drive away.”
Nicest piece of furniture
She’d kept her memories in handwritten notebooks for decades. Last Christmas, she decided she wanted to publish her stories of a lifetime. Staff and students at Bethel College helped transcribe and bind her memories.
“It’s hard for me to accept all the tweet and twittering,” she said. “You can’t sit down and really visit anymore because everyone is checking their cellphones while you’re talking to them.”
Her great-great-grandchildren should listen to her stories about burning cornstalks to keep warm when the family ran out of wood. Or the tiny black-and-white TV that, on good days, got three fuzzy channels. Or the first piece of new furniture she and Clelland ever bought, a refrigerator, in 1952.
“The hardware man kept saying to me that if he ever got them in, he’d sell me the first one,” she recalled. “One day, Homer called and said he’d deliver the refrigerator tomorrow. Well, we had this tiny little kitchen and Clelland asked, ‘Where we gonna put that?’
“We put it in the living room. It was the nicest piece of furniture we ever had.”
Paul Levy • 612-673-4419