Snapshots and Stories:
The Farrington's of Northeast Missouri

 

Snapshots

Isabelle and Gertrude

"Gertrude and I loved to play with the children of the neighborhood. We played dolls mostly, but sometimes played with our kittens and dogs. Sometimes Mother pushed us on the swings or played with us, but mostly we played by ourselves."

"This is a picture of David Lewis, myself, Louise Lewis and Gertrude. Mother and Father had just given Gertrude a gold locket with her name on it. She is wearing it in this picture."

"I remember being a little jealous of Gertrude and her locket, but Mother and Father told me to be patient. I got my locket the next spring."

"I didn’t think twice about the nice things that Gertrude and I had. Mother always dressed nice, never extravagant, but always looked very presentable. She always wore a dress, never pants like women do today."

"Mother’s younger sister Myrtle owned a dress shop in Moberly. I’m sure that Mother got most, if not all, of her dresses from her. Sometimes Aunt Myrtle would travel to New York to attend fashion shows and bring back dresses for me and Gertrude."

"Gertrude and I liked to watch Aunt Myrtle get dressed or ready for the evening out. She was more flamboyant than mother with her dresses and perfume. Mother wore no perfume at all, but she curled her hair every morning. No women had naturally curly hair that I can remember. They used a hot iron to get their curls."

"Gertrude and I always wore dresses, even when playing around the yard. Father loved to buy us nice things, such as fur coats and fancy hats. We got those clothes dirty playing as much as we did, but Mother and the hired girls always got the stains out."

"I did not fully realize how well off our family was until later in life. Gertrude and I really had a good life in Greentop, especially when compared to Mother’s childhood. We did not have to clean or cook or do other chores, but we did. Mother knew that we would some day have families of our own and would need these skills. She was very patient with us and very loving" (I).

Doc Farrington

"The family moved to Greentop for a number of reasons. Father liked the area, (remember, he spent some time at the Normal School in Kirksville), and it was relatively close to family. I guess the big reason we moved to Greentop was Dr. Wooden."

"Dr. Wooden was the local physician and generally liked by the people of Greentop. But his interests were in business, not in medicine. He longed to move to Kansas City and get into banking. When the opportunity to sell his practice to the young Dr. Frank Farrington presented itself, Dr. Wooden jumped at the chance. Father took over as the only doctor in Schuyler County, serving a radius of forty miles."

"Father was a very good physician, very dedicated to his patients. A typical day for Father started in the office around 9:00 AM. His office did not accept appointments or reservations, instead relying on a first-come, first served basis. Oftentimes Father’s waiting room would be crowded with mothers and sick children."

"Father’s office was located above the Farmers State Bank and was quite large. The office had three rooms: a waiting room doubled as Father’s office, a large recovery room faced the street, and an examination room. Sometimes Father used the examination room to operate."

"Father loved new technology, especially any instrument that used electricity. I remember going to the office on several occasions and seeing sparks fly as father treated his patients."

"One time Mother was having trouble with her jaw. She was having trouble opening and closing her mouth. Father knew exactly what to do. He planned to use his ultra-violet light and fashioned a piece of wood or some material with a hole in the center to cover the rest of her face. I remember Mother having a dark patch on her face for quite some time, but Father did cure her pain."

"After a long day’s work at the office, Father would arrive home sometime between 5:30 and 6:00 PM for dinner. Some days he got behind with his patients. Father was very dedicated to helping his patients, even if it meant missing time with his family."

"I remember Mother using the telephone to call the office, telling Father, ‘Doctor, we have dinner ready and are waiting on you.’ Some days Father would not make it home for dinner, but most of the time he did make it home. Mother did not let this get her down. She merely served the meal, going about her business as though nothing were wrong."

"Father returned to the office after dinner, usually around 7:00 PM, to meet the needs of working people. Taking time off work to visit the doctor was not the accepted practice it is today. Nine o’clock in the evening usually meant the end of his office hours, but not the end of his day. It was now time for house calls."

"Father normally charged his patients $2.00 for a house call. This fee included all medications and drugs. Sometimes Father would charge more for house calls if he had to travel a great distance. Typical charge for delivering a baby was $25.00, but included all pre and post-natal care, including medicines."

"When Father finally arrived home, usually around 11:00 PM, he was very tired and us girls were already in bed. Although his hours were long, frequent epidemics made his days even longer. The use of the telephone really helped Father and his patients."

"The operator knew where Father was at all times and would update him on his patient’s health. If a family needed the doctor, they called the operator, who in turn would call Father, telling him which home to make his next house call."

"I remember people calling the house at all hours of the night, some with emergencies, others with simple questions. Mother started to answer their simple questions if she could. She began to pick up bits of information from being around Father so much."

"Many times injured patients would come to the house if they new Father was in. One such incident that stands out in my mind was a father who brought his daughter to the house because of abdominal pains. Father determined that she needed an emergency appendectomy and began clearing the dinner table. Mother dropped everything and became his anesthesiologist. She had never administered anesthetic before, but Father was able to talk her through it. The operation was a success."

"Another case I remember involved a young girl who suffered some terrible burns. This girl’s skirt caught fire while burning leaves in her yard. Instead of dropping and rolling, she ran, increasing the flames and the burns on her body. My parents traveled to the girl’s home to dress the burns once per day for somewhere near five months. They did such a good job with this young girl that her scars were barely apparent in later years. Along with the successful cases came the unsuccessful ones."

"I remember one Christmas celebration in Greentop that was delayed. Father had been attending to a pregnant mother for the past day and hoped the child would be born that evening, Christmas Eve. He spoke with Mother over the phone, the two deciding that the family would wait until he returned to begin our celebration. When Father arrived at home with a somber face I knew something was wrong."

"Father was heartbroken. He so much loved to bring children into this world, especially boys. This particular child was a still birth, a difficult thing for Father on an ordinary day, but to happen on Christmas, that was tough. Father was in no mood to celebrate. We simply put the presents away and went to bed."

"Father was a very hard working man, very devoted to his practice and patients. I do not remember him being around very much as a child, except for meals. In later years, Father even stopped going to church with Mother and us girls. He did not like being called out of church to attend to patients because he thought it disrupted the service. So he merely stopped going."

"Mother was around a lot more. I think it is safe to say that Mother was as devoted to us girls as Father was to his patients. Mother never complained, even when the phone rang as the family was preparing to leave for a night out or a vacation. Father would simply tell us he could not attend. Sometimes we went without him, but mostly we postponed our events" (I).

Gertrude and Isabelle

"Mother and Father were some of the most respected and educated people in Greentop. Father had his Doctorate of Medicine and Mother a college degree. Our education, especially Gertrude’s, started at a very early age."

"Gertrude began taking piano lessons from Mother at the age of four. Mother had taught herself piano and felt that Gertrude was showing enough interest to start at such an early age. I believe that early start paid off for Gertrude in the long run."

"When Gertrude reached school age, Father and Mother decided to continue her education at home instead of sending her to public schools, (they feared that her education might suffer in the Greentop school). Mother, an accredited primary and secondary teacher, began by teaching Gertrude, and later me."

"I remember Mother’s school started at precisely 9:00 AM every morning with the traditional bell ringing. Mother wanted to make her school exactly the same as public school with regards to starting and ending times, texts, recess, and meals. She was very demanding of us as students and knew the value of a good education."

"Mother continued to teach Gertrude and myself piano in addition to our normal schooling for a number of years. We even followed the public school calendar, beginning classes around Labor day and continuing through winter and into the spring. Having hired girls assist Mother with household chores helped free up time for home schooling."

"Although Mother’s classes were very challenging, the people of Greentop were skeptical. We did everything the public school did, but people still were not happy that we were being schooled at home. There was great pressure for Father to put his children in public school. The townspeople thought the doctor’s children should set a good example for the community."
"Finally, when Gertrude was in fifth grade and I was in third, Father gave in to community pressure and sent us to public school."

"That first year was very different than having Mother teach us. I really think we were ahead of our classmates because Mother pushed us so hard. We got a better education at home than we did at public school" (I).

Helping

"Both Mother and Father had a deep desire to help their fellow man. Father was always available to his patients, day and night, even during holidays. Mother did her part by taking on ‘hired help’ or ‘house girls’ as she liked to call them."

"I remember several house girls working with mother in the kitchen and around the house while I was growing up. They started meals, did cleaning and some sewing (Mother liked to sew). Mother generally trusted the hired help, but we did get a few bad eggs."

"I remember one girl Mother suspected of stealing her jewelry. One day Mother caught her with some of Mother’s rings in her bag. She did not yell or scold the girl. Mother only told her never to come back to our house ever again. But for the most part the hired girls were good people whom we trusted, especially Eva Lundstrum."

"Eva was the daughter of Mr. Lundstrum, the hired man who helped around the house. As a favor to Mr. Lundstrum, Mother asked Eva to work with her around the house."

"Gertrude and I really liked having Eva around. Some of the house girls, especially Eva, stayed over night at our home."

"When Eva finished high school, Father and Mother helped pay for her to attend College in Kirksville. I remember Eva coming back during breaks and holidays to visit. Often she would stay with our family over a break instead of at home with her parents. Eva was very special to my parents. The girls, Gertrude, Elnora Lee, Elizabeth and I, kept in touch with Eva until her death in the 1970’s" (I).

Hattie

"When Gertrude and I started going to the public school Mother had more time on her hands to pursue her hobbies. She continued raising chickens and doing her household chores and picked up other interests."

"I remember Mother continuing her piano studies only to get very frustrated with Eva Lundstrum. Eva played the piano by ear while Mother slaved to perfect her skills at the instrument. This frustrated Mother, but she kept practicing and learning on her own, and helping Eva with her piano."

"One summer the people of Greentop decided to start their own orchestra. Their only problem: no one knew how to play the clarinet. Mother decided to help out by teaching herself to play the clarinet. She never became very proficient at the instrument, but just the fact that she taught herself was amazing. Mother was always trying to help out."

"Some of Mother’s other hobbies were taking pictures and quilting. Elnora Lee thinks that Grandmother Hays was a better quilter, but I think Mother did a fine job."

"Mother did get involved in a few community clubs and groups while in Greentop. She was very involved at church and made sure to make good on her pledges to the parish. When a local family was a little down, financially, or needed extra help around the house, Mother sent her house girls to help. Other times Mother sent baked goods or whole meals to neighbors or even church."

"I remember in the summer we would take the train to St. Louis for the opera, just Mother, Gertrude and me. Mother loved the opera. Father could not get away from his practice, so we went by ourselves."

"It was strange for a woman and her two small children to be traveling alone in the 1910’s, but there was not so much trouble with crime back then. We usually stayed in a hotel in St. Louis (Mother never mentioned the cost . . . parents did not do that in those days). It was a grand time. In addition to the opera and shows, we visited the zoo, ate at restaurants and did some shopping."

"One of Mother’s very strong beliefs involved alcohol: she very much opposed the use of alcohol and never kept any in the house. Mother joined the WCTU: Women’s Christian Temperance Union. I do remember Father drinking, but not in our house. Mother would not have alcohol in her home."

"One day mother went to a friend’s home in town and a woman offered her a glass of wine. Mother did not want to seem rude, so she accepted the glass. She came home flying high. I think this was the only time I saw or knew of Mother drinking any form of alcohol."

"I think Mother’s favorite past-time was growing roses. She had extensive gardens around the house and even moved roses inside for the winter months. When Mother had more flowers than she could use, she sent bouquets to neighbors and people in Greentop" (I).

Frank

"In the early days of his practice, Father traveled by horse, sometimes hitching up the buggy. I did not know his last name, but Father had a hired man named Jack who helped care for the horses and other livestock."

"In the winter Father wore a great bear fur coat with heavy leather gauntlets over his legs to protect him from the cold. At times snow would reach his horse’s stomach. But that would not stop him from attending to his patients’ needs. To avoid getting lost during snow storms or when the snow was particularly deep, Father asked families to meet him at their property’s edge."

"While we were living in Greentop, Father thought that an automobile might help him reach his patients more quickly. I think it was 1911 when Father made arrangements to purchase a Model T Ford."

"I remember Mother asking Father how he planned to get the car home. She reminded him that he did not know how to drive. Father said he would know how to drive by the time the car arrived. He arranged for the owner’s manual to be mailed ahead so he could read up on his new car before it arrived."

"It was a grand event, the day that car came on the flatbed rail car. Father got in, started the engine and maneuvered that car right down the ramp and onto the streets of Greentop. He spent the day giving family and friends rides around the town. I believe ours was one of the first cars in Schuyler County and the first in Greentop."

"Father really enjoyed his car, but found travel on our dirt roads difficult. The car had trouble getting around if the roads were wet from rain or full of snow. Cars back then did not have the capabilities cars today do. But there were days which Father was able to use his car to get from house call to house call quickly" (I).

For a story related to this snapshot, please go to The Storm in the Stories section.

Gertrude

"The family moved to Kirksville in the summer of 1917. Gertrude continued perfecting her skills on the piano and could now take lessons without riding the train."

"Gertrude had perfect pitch. When Mother or I were playing the piano, even tinkering around as Mother liked to call it, Gertrude would yell at us if we were playing off pitch. She was a perfectionist."

"Gertrude spent at least eight hours a day practicing. And she would not play for anyone until she felt she knew the piece perfectly. Mother and Father used to beg her to play something for them, but Gertrude refused, saying she needed more time to learn the piece."

"I know my sister had an incredible talent, but sometimes that talent made me jealous. Gertrude did not have to wash dishes or clean around the house. She felt those tasks may get her fingers out of alignment, or worse yet, injure her precious hands. Gertrude also had a fear of feathers, which prevented her from plucking and cleaning chickens or the ducks that Father brought home from hunting. Mother knew Gertrude loved the piano and supported her whenever she could."

"Gertrude began taking lessons from a name named John Wesley Neff while in high school. Mr. Neff was an instructor at the Normal School in Kirksville and continued to teach Gertrude when she enrolled in classes there in the fall of 1922. Recognizing her talent, John recommended that Gertrude attend the American Conservatory in Chicago."

"At first, Mother and Father were cautious. They did not want their little girl going away to the big city all alone. But Gertrude and Mr. Neff eventually convinced them this would greatly enhance her skills. The gamble paid off when Gertrude was invited to play at Carnegie Hall. This was a great honor, but one that Gertrude was unable to accept. Mother and Father very much wanted to send her, but the cost was too great."

"Gertrude finished her education in Chicago in a little under two years. She went on to become an successful instructor of music in New York" (I).

For a story related to this snapshot, please go to Gertrude in the Stories section.

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A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
By Douglas A. Daubert [mail "at" dougdaubert.com]
All Rights Reserved, 2010