Stories from the Penn Colony

Elma Heim Griffiths – describing her family life in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s
(by Bob Williamson)
Recently, Karen Krofta shared with me two dairies which Elma Heim Griffiths had written, describing her family life in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Elma wrote in her personal diary of the wonderful Christmas presents received by herself and Roy in Christmas of 1960. Notice the contrast of gifts given in that day to a frugal retired farm couple compared to today’s gifts.
Roy, Elma’s husband received from his brother Ivan; a pair of overalls, pliers, smoking pipe, and 2 pair of green work gloves. Alma’s gifts to Roy: pair of overalls, tan leather cap, dress rubbers, and box of cigars. Gifts to Elma from Roy: pastel yellow 60X90 table cloth, nice cotton dress, white glass deviled egg plate, and china trinket box. Other gifts from neighbors and friends: work gloves, pair socks, box of cherry chocolates, 4 pair gray work socks, plastic house plant water pot, 2 pink rayon knit slips, pair pink rayon knit panties, cotton print for dress, box of stationary, stag handle carving set of knife, fork, and steel, and “My Fair Lady” perfume.
The seasonal holiday gatherings were observed. Pies, cake (usually an angle food), homemade ice cream in season, and of course, jello salads were on the menu. Farm chores were done in the early morning and again when the family returned home. Friendly conversations covered who is ill and who is well about the neighborhood and family. Who had a new baby and how the other children were doing. Men covered the weather and crops, and how their brand of tractor was aiding in the year around farm work. Family members who had married and moved to the city were welcomed home and asked many questions about their lives there.
Dr. Harlan Heim was mentioned often when illness reared its ugly head. As the family grew older there were some graphic tales of new medicines and procedures which eased the pain and discomfort. Church and neighborhood clubs were important socially. “Neighboring” was practiced by all. Any accident or illness or death brought everyone together to help.
Life was good in that time for good people. God, church, friends and family were the center of their lives just as it is ours…only in a different time. …Roy, hand me one of those 5 cent cigars and I will sit and chat with you for a spell, while the ladies whip up a lunch of egg salad sandwiches, potato salad, jello salad, pickled beets, fresh coffee and some cherry pie. Thanks Karen, dang if those weren’t the days!
Written by Bob Williamson in 2015
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