As I sit down to write the column for March and April, I find it
hard to project myself this far ahead. You see, it is five days
before Christmas, and Christmas seems to be a season that somehow
claims all of you. A greeting came from a reader of the Iron Men
Album from Granton, Wisconsin. He is a Mr. Free McHone. This
gentleman has sawed lumber and threshed for sixty-one years. He has
a portable saw mill, and a stationery mill run by steam. Thank you,
Mr. McHone! He also affirms the fact that the corn chopping machine
I mentioned in the Jan.-Feb. issue of 1970 was, indeed, a Hexel
Machine. So, here, you see, is another man who reads the I.M.A.
I suppose Christmas is so special this year because it is our
first one in our new home. After thirty-seven years of having the
piney mess of a Christmas tree in the house, we put ours outside
this year. We didn’t have to ask any of the children what they
thought about it. There weren’t any here to ask!
Another thing, I never heard, once, while I was doing the
trimming: ‘O Mother! That looks stupid there! It would look so
much better on that other wall.’ And, ‘You have too many
blue lights together on the tree.’ And, sometimes, ‘Do you
mean you are going to put that old thing up again?’ ‘That
old thing’ was, of course, some relic from my childhood!
But this year I have had a gloriously free hand! And I think the
results are rather good. The tree is right outside of our big front
windows. The snow obligingly fell on it right soon. It is flocked
with white, and I had none of the work. I used some brown shoe
polish on Joseph’s head, where the paint was chipped off a bit,
and he looks ten years younger.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love all of our children! I love
them very much! But just in case there are some of you who are
dreading your first Christmas by yourselves, I want to point out
some advantages. We will have three of them home for the day, with
their mates and three grandchildren, but, to be honest with you, I
haven’t ever had this much fun getting ready for Christmas. I
can fully savor it this year.
The adult Sunday School Class, which I teach, were out here for
a party one evening last week. They presented me with a seven
blossom poinsettia. It is so beautiful! It lights the whole room!
There were forty-one of us and we had a wonderful time playing
games and singing carols. They brought a sumptuous lunch, and we
furnished coffee, tea, and punch. We did have a moment or two of
doubt when we began to count noses of our members and their
partners. It could have run over seventy. That was one time it was
good that everybody didn’t come! We ended the evening by
burning all the paper plates and cups in the fireplace. It was a
Another thing this winter has brought is new hope to me as a
writer. There is a very good chance of my latest book finding a
publisher! I am supposed to have the manuscript ready by February
first. 30,410 words are already typed, and there are somewhere
around 20,000 more to get down on paper. So, the cold days of
January will find me glued to my working chair. The book is on the
year of retirement, taking it month by month. The title will be,
COUNTY TRUNK M.
Not too long ago we had unexpected callers one day. I like
unexpected callers! The element of pleasure in a surprise seems to
work well for us. Ann Landers declares you shouldn’t come
without calling ahead. I feel that true friends will understand if
your house isn’t in perfect order. My best friends certainly
do, and I love them for it! Two of those who are dearest to me
shove their newspapers aside, pick the cat Out of the chair, if
need be, and we sit down and visit. We never look at whatever
disorder there might be, because we know, underneath it is clean.
One day, when I apologized a bit to a man at the house on business,
he replied, ‘Oh, Mrs. Baber, that is just clean dirt! Just the
disorder of living! But you should see some places I get into. They
have dirty dirt!’ You know, he helped me a lot that day, for at
the time, all six children added to the complication of keeping an
orderly house. Now it is no trick at all.
But getting back to our callers….. There were four of them.
Art Frase, a well-seasoned steam man, brought his daughter,
Charlotte, who is Mrs. Frank Hussli of Beaver Dam, and Gloria,
another daughter, Mrs. Keith Steiner and her young son John to
visit us. Of course, you know what the men looked at, Alfred’s
steam engine! Mr. Frase owns an Advance, a Nichols & Shepard,
and a Case engine now. Not too long ago he owned a 110 Case Engine
which he brought in from Montana. We called on him shortly after it
arrived here. As our good friend told us of that long journey with
his prize, he almost became poetic as he spoke of the sun rising
over those Montana hills as they were loading it. I expect he has
relived that experience many times when he sees the sun coming up
in the morning.
Art and Viola Frase had the great privilege of observing their
fiftieth wedding anniversary on September 16th of 1970. Open House
was held at Charlotte’s home in Beaver Dam. We were invited and
had a most enjoyable time. They are blessed by seven grandchildren,
from the little fellow who came to see us, to two twenty-year-old
boys, nearly men. They were a happy family that day!
But happiness has not always been their lot. Their only son,
Harrison C. Frase, was killed in World War II on his tenth bombing
mission. And all these years later we have still not learned to
love our fellow man, and get along in this world! Blood is still
I ponder on this as I watch two pair of beautiful cardinals
flitting around our new dooryard, and visiting our bird feeder. God
has given us so much! He has given His only son for us! And we are
still shedding the blood of young men, such as Harrison Frase was,
back then. What is the answer? Of course, the real answer is Christ
in the heart of each individual, but by and large, men will not
accept this Prince of Peace. May 1971 bring a real revival in the
hearts of our fellow men, we pray. This is our wish for each one of
you as the year progresses: the ‘peace that passeth all