Snapshots and Stories:
The Farrington's of Northeast Missouri

 

Snapshots

Elnora Lee

"I was the only child not born in the Greentop home. Mother gave birth to me on May 14, 1918, but I was not named until three days later."

Isabelle, Hattie and Gertrude with little Elnora Lee"Father had always wanted a boy and thought that I was going to be the one. He was so sure that I was a boy that he made a bet with Lee Young of Greentop. The deal was if Father named his next child after Lee, Mr. Young would buy Daddy a United States Savings Bond. Father and Mother debated for a while before naming me: Elnora Lee Farrington. Lee gave Daddy the bond that next week."

"I would have to say that my childhood was a good one, not as grand as Isabelle’s and Gertrude’s, but a good one none-the-less. Like Greentop, our family had lots of hired people helping Mother around the house. Most of our hired help in Kirksville were black women, very sweet and kind."

"Mother and Daddy were very good and fair parents. I do remember one time, when I was four years old, I got a good whipping from Father. I deserved it."

"The neighbor down the street, an older lady, was like a grandmother to me. One afternoon Mother and I went shopping and I got a new slip. Well, I wanted to show the lady down the street my new slip but Father told me I had to stay in the yard. My little mind quickly devised a scheme to get out of Father’s sight."

"I asked Father if I could go inside to wash my hands. While in the kitchen, I turned on the water and headed right out the back door. I wasn’t at the neighbor’s house for five minutes when Daddy figured out what I had done. My friend told me to hide in the closet just as Daddy knocked on the door."

"When she let him in, I could tell he was furious just from hearing his voice. She begged him not to scold me, but Daddy knew what I needed and told me to come out. Father got a switch and smacked me on the legs all the way home."

"The neighbors saw this going on and didn’t like it one bit. But they knew I was getting my due. Even Isabelle and Elizabeth thought that I was getting a suitable punishment. That was the last time Daddy hit me with a switch. I think he felt bad after that incident. But he was right. I deserved my punishment."

"When we got home I was sent to bed without any supper. Needless to say, I never ran off again" (EL).

Frank

"Daddy was very successful with his practice in both Greentop and Kirksville. When we were living on Baltimore Street in the mid 1920’s, Daddy decided he wanted to provide his family with added financial security. He began looking into ways to invest his money and decided to get into coal mining."

"The family had owned a farm north of Kirksville that Daddy thought would be a good place to start a coal mine. The hired man who ran the farm became the foreman for Daddy’s coal mine. They started digging one summer, I can’t remember the exact date, and found some coal. It was a pretty good vein, prompting the men to think they had struck it rich. Their enthusiasm was short lived, however."

"The good vein of coal quickly ran out, but Daddy poured more money into the mine and the men kept digging. Eventually the men struck an underground river. They tried to make due, but the water never stopped. The mine became a complete loss. I think Daddy lost everything he had invested in that coal mine. It was a devastating loss, but it didn’t break Daddy financially."

"Another investment Daddy got into involved a man from Texas. The man represented a Texas-based fruit farming operation and convinced Daddy to invest. Fruit farming in Texas was a success, but this man was a crook and took all Daddy’s money."

"My father was a trusting man who believed in the goodness of people. He could live with the failed coal mine knowing he had made a mistake. But the man from Texas bothered him. I don’t ever remember Daddy investing money in business after that incident. Daddy was just a trusting person who gotten taken by a bad man" (EL).

Frank

"Daddy did not have many hobbies I remember. He enjoyed purchasing new technology like the carbide lights and electrical instruments for his practice. The only thing I remember Daddy doing that did not involve his practice was hunting."

"Daddy loved to hunt quail and ducks. He didn’t get much time to hunt, but when he did he enjoyed that very much. Lee Young was one of Daddy’s friends in Greentop who continued to hunt with him even after we moved to Kirksville. Daddy loved to hunt with his dog, Bob. He called Bob the little boy he never had. Us girls didn’t like it when Daddy went hunting because it meant we would have to clean his birds."

"Daddy would return from hunting, drop off his ducks or quail, and return to the office or house calls. It was the girls’ job to pluck and dress the birds, getting them ready for dinner."

"One day Mother was helping us clean the birds as Elizabeth and I were complaining about our task. She didn’t say a word until our complaining got out of hand. I remember her scolding us, telling us that hunting was Daddy’s only hobby outside of his work and that we needed to support him. Elizabeth and I felt very bad and never complained about cleaning Daddy’s birds again" (EL).

To read a story about Frank's dog, please go to Bob in the Stories section.

To read a story about Frank's hobbies, please go to Hunting in the Stories section.

Depression

"The years leading up to the depression were generally good ones for our family and the people in the community. Although Daddy had made some bad investments, we were pretty well off. The Depression changed all that."

"Daddy trusted his patients so much that he never sent any bills. He felt that people would pay him when they had the money. People began to take advantage of Daddy’s goodness during the Depression."

"For many people, priorities with their money started with rent and ended with food. Other bills often went unpaid, especially doctor’s bills. I think it was during these years that Mother and Father really started to feel strapped, financially I mean."

"Mother really worked hard during those depression years to keep money coming in for the family. She kept a garden, canning food in the summer in preparation for the long winter months, sold eggs, even sold her chickens to make money for the family. I don’t remember the family ever going without meals during those times. Mother even made and kept her pledges to the church. Religion was very important to her."

"I think it was during the early 1930’s that Daddy had his first stroke. It was a mild stroke, but it kept him from practicing medicine for short time. I think it was during that period that Mother began renting out rooms in our Kirksville home."

"Our house on Baltimore Street was very big and always seemed to have a breeze blowing through. Mother thought that traveling business men might like a more family-like atmosphere during their stay in town and decided to begin renting out rooms."

"I remember Daddy and Mother coming to Elizabeth and me, asking us if we would mind giving up our rooms for renters. I did not know what to think at the time. It must have been hard for Mother to ask this of her children, but she had to do it. It was the only way to ensure the family would have enough money to pay the mortgage and put food on the table."

"Elizabeth and I agreed and soon Daddy had a sign out in front of the house that read, ‘Tourist Home.’ It was comparable to a bed and breakfast of today. People paid $1.50 per person for a night’s stay. They even got to pick the room they wanted. Elizabeth and I slept on cots on the porch."

"When someone checked in, Elizabeth or I would take ice water up to their room and make sure they had everything they needed, linens, towels, all the things hotels had. Mother charged an additional $1.00 per person for breakfast the following morning."

"I think Mother continued her Tourist Home for about eight years. We had some regulars who would return whenever they were stopping through town. Most men liked our house because of the cool breeze and friendly hospitality. We did get some grumpy people at times, but most were very pleasant and courteous."

"Through all this, Mother was a trooper. She never thought twice about renting out her home. She did it because the family needed the money. I still admire her for doing what she did to make ends meet" (EL).

Farrington Women

"Daddy always wanted a boy. Mother wanted to give him a boy but thought that she could do a better job raising girls. That is what she told us, anyway."

"When I look back on our family I can’t help but think that the women in our family were quite remarkable for the day. Thanks to our parents, every child in our family had a high school and college education. And every woman, from Mother right down to myself, taught school at one point in their life. That fact is pretty special to us."

"Not only did Mother give us the drive to become educated, she helped us understand the importance of family. Even though we had hired help, Mother taught us to sew, cook, clean, all the time role-modeling proper behavior for a wife, mother and woman. She was a remarkable person" (EL).

Frank

"Daddy’s first stroke was followed by a second that left him with a speech impediment. After his first stroke, Daddy kept paying the rent on his office and quickly returned to work. It was shortly after Daddy’s first stroke that Mother began renting out rooms."

"He and Mother continued paying rent after Daddy’s second stroke, even though a complete recovery was unlikely. Daddy’s second stroke left him ‘home bound’ for almost a year. He was very unhappy during this period of his life. It just tore him up because medicine and helping patients was his life. Now he didn’t have that."

"Daddy always dreamed of returning to practice but never got the chance. I think it was during these years, the later years of The Depression, that Daddy quit paying on his health and life insurance."

"With Daddy unable to practice, the money from renters became very important. They rented for a number of years until Mother and Father decided to sell the large home on Baltimore Street. I think it was in 1941 that Mother and Daddy sold the house on Baltimore Street to a Dentist from Kansas City. The war was going on and no one wanted a house that large. I think the dentist gave $4000.00 for that home (it was worth much more). Mother and Daddy started renting a home in Kirksville, but soon moved to Pennsylvania to be closer to Gertrude."

"On their way to Pennsylvania, Mother stopped in Chicago to have Daddy examined by a special physician. Daddy was in his early seventies but the doctor said he had the body of a ninety-year-old. His body was just worn out. Daddy had devoted his life to his patients. He really cared about his patients and wore out his body serving them."

"Daddy had a third stroke in 1947 that left him without speech or the ability to write. This was a very difficult time for Daddy and the family. Even after his second stroke and his speech impediment, he was able to write notes to us if he had trouble speaking. Now he was totally isolated and became depressed."

"My parents were living with Gertrude in Pennsylvania again, but the family was having a hard time caring for Daddy. It was decided that Isabelle would try to find a hospital or nursing home for Daddy. Most of the homes required payment, but Daddy’s insurance had run out long ago, leaving Mother with very limited funds. The girls didn’t have enough money to help out so Isabelle began looking to state hospitals for help."

"Isabelle found one who agreed to take Daddy. Most of the state hospitals in the area wouldn’t take him, thinking that a doctor should have enough money and that we were trying to take advantage of the system. She convinced the hospital that Daddy had given his life for his patients and lost all his money in bad investments. Daddy was very sick when we finally got him to the hospital. "

"Daddy’s time in the hospital was difficult. He saw the bars on the windows and rails on the beds and grew increasingly frustrated. He still couldn’t communicate with anyone because of his stroke. I think he believed we had put him into a mental institution."

"His health failing, Daddy gave up. I don’t think he lasted a month in that hospital before he died. Mother and Isabelle were with him the night he died. Isabelle said it was a difficult and slow death."

"All that he gave to his patients, all that he sacrificed with family and friends to practice medicine, you would have thought that this man would have died a more dignified death. I still believe to this day that Daddy thought he had been put into a mental institution to die. It is a sad thought" (EL).

Hattie

"After Daddy died in 1948, Mother began living with us girls. She spent the next ten years living with me and my husband Paul. In the summer months Mother visited Gertrude, Isabelle, and Elizabeth. No matter where Mother was, she always had this need to be needed."

"When she lived with Paul and me, Mother used to get up early and prepare breakfast for the family. She did that for a year, until I sat her down and told her not to. I think that hurt her a little, but she eventually got used to sleeping and taking life a little slower."

"Mother was always very independent. She had to be with Father’s profession. I know losing Father was a great loss for her, but Mother was so strong and so independent. She kept on going, learning new hobbies and spending more time with her grandchildren."

"Mother became interested in and started teaching herself ceramics. She was very skilled with her hands from so many years of making quilts. Her ceramics were exceptionally beautiful. She spent a lot of time making little ceramic figures and trinkets for her children and grandchildren. Not the pre-made ceramic kits you get today, mind you. She didn’t merely paint them, she made them from scratch. Mother was very dedicated to learning, even in her later years" (EL).

Hattie

"Mother always had a positive attitude, even through the Depression and after Father died. She always looked on the bright side of life, I think, because of her strong Christian beliefs. One of Mother’s most trying times physically was when she fell and broke her wrist."

"While traveling with Elizabeth one summer, Mother went into an unfamiliar bathroom and fell, breaking her wrist in 13 different places. The local doctor had very little experience with orthopedics and decided to drive mother to Knoxville, Tennessee, fifty miles away. He gently wrapped her hand, placed it on a pillow and began his drive."

"The doctor in Knoxville decided to put mother in a full cast to her shoulder and keep her in the hospital for a couple of days for observation. After three days, he removed the cast, replacing it with a smaller one."

"The doctor did the best job he could setting her bones, but Mother was still in great pain. He told Mother to exercise the hand as much as possible and was not sure she would ever regain much range of motion. He asked that Mother return to his office when she had healed so he could be the one to remove the cast. Mother returned to Pennsylvania and stayed with Gertrude for the next several months."

"To exercise her hand, Mother continued crocheting what she called medallions that she used to make table cloths and bed spreads. One medallion normally took Mother an hour to complete. The same task was now taking her almost the entire day. And the pain was so great Mother often had to put her needles down, tears in her eyes. She kept on trying and continued to move her hand even though it hurt. Mother was very determined."

"When it came time to travel back to Knoxville to remove the cast, Mother asked me to fly with her. I had never been on a plane before but Mother had many times before. She held my hand and comforted me through the entire flight."

"When the doctor removed the cast and asked Mother to move his hand he was amazed. Mother had complete range of motion in her hand and wrist. I remember the doctor saying:"

I just set the bones, Mrs. Farrington, you did all the work. You should be congratulated for your persistence.

"That was amazing. Mother was quite the woman" (EL).

Hattie

"Mother had only one request of us girls after we moved out of the home. She asked that we write her a letter every Mother’s Day, which we did. Mother was very special to us girls. Our Father was very special also, but nothing can compare to the bond between a mother and her daughters" (EL).

To view some of Hattie's Mother's Day letter, please go to Appendix A

Hattie

"September, October and November of 1960 were very tough on our family. Gertrude’s husband John had died on Labor day of that year and Mother’s health was declining."

Hattie Farrington"Mother was living with Isabelle on the Detroit River in Michigan at the time. She spent most of her time watching boats on the river from Isabelle’s living room. One afternoon Mother started to tremble and passed out. Isabelle quickly got a doctor. It was determined that Mother had a stroke and wouldn’t last long."

"My husband Paul had just suffered a heart attack and was still in the hospital when I got the call from Isabelle. She said Mother wouldn’t last the night. I remember being very sad, but Mother had lived a full and rich life."

"I was not able to attend Mother’s funeral because Paul was in the hospital. I know she would have wanted it that way. She knew he was really sick and would have wanted me to be with him.

"I love my Mother very much, as all her children did. Her and Daddy meant the world to us girls. They were really neat people, very devoted to their family. I miss my parents" (EL).

View photographs by Hattie

 

Home | A Beginning | Snapshots | Pictures

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