REMEMBERING AUNT JENNIE
I remember Aunt Jennie as always being interested in things. She shared with my mother a love of learning as well as a love of needlework. I always looked forward to Aunt Jennie's Christmas cards with the crocheted tree ornament. I remember the time when she brought many doilies to Uncle Herbert's place where some of us met. It was so hard to choose one.
I also visited her in the assisted living center a couple of times and learned how she was still taking care of other people there, helping them with their meals, etc.
My earliest memory of Aunt Jennie is from the Christmas that we went to Colorado. Grandpa and Grandma were on some sort of farm, and he was raising turkeys. I must have been quite small. She stood me on a chair to recite for everyone the nursery rhymes she had taught me. Somehow, I did not remember her teaching them to me but did remember the rhymes.
Another early memory is when she and Uncle Bert came to visit shortly after they were married. They took Evelyn and me to town with them. We drove past a bachelor's house about a mile west of us--Herman something. Before Mom and Dad knew about Uncle Bert, I had overheard them saying that Herman and Aunt Jennie would be a good match. Of course, a we drove past, I blurted out, "Mama and Daddy think you should have married Herman ____." They just laughed.
I loved to visit them on their "farm." I was so impressed that there were two houses and different sorts of outbuildings from what we had at home. Aunt Jennie also played with us some kind of word game with cards which I loved dearly.
When we were in Colorado one time--probably in 1954 for a wedding, Uncle Bert asked if we (Evelyn and I) had ever seen the mountains. We had not, of course. They took us the next day up to Central City. I was so impressed and bought a postcard from the saloon. It was a disappointment to visit it years later with our kids. On that trip, Aunt Jennie and Uncle Bert changed drivers while still driving which I thought amazing. She slipped over to the driver’s seat while he slid over to the passenger seat, one of them always in control of the wheel. They hardly slowed. We ended the day in Elitch Gardens, which was much more exciting than the Burt County Fair.
After Mom died, Aunt Jennie wrote me a letter about coming to stay with Mom before I was born, a difficult delivery expected.
My greatest regret is living so far away that I did not see Aunt Jennie or the rest of the Omans very often.
Marilyn Sundquist Kostin
From Una Mae
I have so many wonderful memories of Aunt Jennie.
Joyce told me about Bert and Jennie visiting them on the Dismal on their honeymoon. She said she had a corsage of gardenias and that they smelled wonderful. She said that smell always reminds her of their trip.
When Aunt Jennie visited in the early years, we had photos taken as I don't think we always had a camera.
I can remember her as always being kind and caring. This is really kind of an unusual memory, but Patty and I were going to sit together at Grandma Oman's funeral and Aunt Jennie made sure both of us had hankies.
I always thought the basement at the farm was rather magical with the ping-pong table, plaster of Paris wonders to paint and all the other fun things to do.
When I worked in Ogallala (before I was married) a friend and I spent a weekend visiting Uncle Bert and Aunt Jennie. Aunt Jennie asked us to sing at church. Surely I didn't play the piano, but I can't remember who else would have! We had a wonderful weekend.
One summer trip in the late 60's I think, we visited them. I have a picture of them and also one of Leslie and Brad sitting on the combine.
At an Oman reunion held in Wray, our son Brad and Phyllis' son, Scott, were finding it difficult to find enough to do, I imagine they were 10 or so. Anyhow Aunt Jennie invited them to go to the farm and spend the night with her. No problem for her!
We enjoyed visiting her in the little house and one visit she fixed lunch for us.
She seemed so happy to be in the Parrish Care and was so proud of it when we had our first tour. We were her guests for lunch several times. I remember how kind and caring she was to the other people living there, altering clothes for them, mending or reading to them. She was always so concerned about her friends there.
Some of my fondest memories were staying all night with Aunt Lillie and then taking her to Yuma for a good visit. When Uncle Herbert could go, he went too. One time we went to Pizza Hut for lunch. Often we went to Woody’s. One time we went to a cafe that had a special of navy beans. Aunt Jennie loved these outings and often would see people she knew and they would greet her and chat for awhile. One time Gail was there visiting when we came--what a treat.
Our last visit was late last October. She was still sharp as could be and we had a great visit. I thought it was too early to take something for her birthday, but now I wish I would have. She remarked that she hoped she could live there for as long as she lived. She didn't lack much of having her wish.
I met Mary on a couple of our visits there. It was very rare that I ever left without a doily, potholder or crocheted tree ornament. Last time there when I asked her if she still listened to the Rockies, she said she didn't as they made her nervous (I think that was how she put it).
She was a wonderful Aunt and I will miss our visits with this lovely lady with the twinkling eyes very much.
Una Mae Jameson Clausen
Aunt Jennie went to Greeley to become a certified teacher. She really loved to share "school stories" with us—deep love and care for the students she had. Of course this story thrills me.
Aunt Jennie and Uncle Bert were a couple that just absolutely loved each other so much. It just sort of radiated. I remember them as being happy and as givers, being very involved in their church and community, and did oodles and scads of crafts and handiwork.
Uncle Bert was just plain special—very calm and was about the best listener I have known.
I have many memories of their first home. It was a small one story house as I remember—very nice and cozy. For some reason the screen door stands out in my memory—must be a "welcome door" as you came in and out of the house. I sort of "see" Uncle Bert holding the door to help us in or out.
One story I remember that Aunt Jennie told about how she and Uncle Bert would trade driving responsibilities without stopping the car. That sounds unsafe now, but back then the cars moved much, much slower.
One summer Uncle Bert and Aunt Jennie took Marilyn and me to Central City. It was so much fun—I still remember parts of it, like a gold mine and the face on the ball room floor.
Aunt Jennie, having been a school teacher, had many "projects for kids"—and I remember her sharing craft materials with others. I painted the plaster of Paris last supper which has hung in our home for years. Also there is a little white plaster of Paris deer with a black nose that we made at their home-- that we had had for years. I remember her as always having something to do. I remember Jennie weaving rag rugs—lovely rugs. Her donating her loom to a museum in their area and she showing others how to use it is a great memory to me.
Once Jim and I went to Denver and our three kids stayed with Uncle Bert and Aunt Jennie. They did crafts and many other fun things. They were impressed with Uncle Bert’s big Quonset, I remember. It was big!!!!! He had a large wheat farm and had plenty of equipment I am sure.
Aunt Jennie loved football. One time she came to Ogallala to watch Young Jim play football. My she was excited. She had made herself a very nice, cozy "leg/foot warmer" (she would slip it over her legs) made from an old coat. Aunt Jennie used her money very wisely. She recycled! Sharp lady!
I enjoyed visiting Aunt Jennie in the Assisted Living home when I could. She continued to make things for others and helped others while living there even though her vision and hearing were failing her. She kept going. A year ago last summer she sent lovely crochet ornaments with a niece for her to share with everyone at the reunion. Aunt Jennie sent these lovely crochet ornaments in her cards, and always had something she’d made to give you when you visited. She was a cheerful giver.
Another thing I really appreciated and admired about Aunt Jennie was how she told such neat "school stories" and how she encouraged you in whatever you are doing in such a positive way. She was an educator!
Evelyn Sundquist Loverchek
From Sharon and Tammy
What I remember most is her smiling, her eyes twinkling. Whenever I stopped to see her at Parrish Care Center she would be with other people, always happy and smiling.
Tammy and I also remember going the farm house and painting plaster of Paris Christmas ornaments,.. and a really great memory, pulling taffy on the really big hook in her and Uncle Bert’s basement. It was such great fun and the results were always wonderful and so good. She also had small fairs at the farm for kids with turtle, bike and all kinds of other races and plaster of Paris prizes that we could take home.
One time Grandma Lillie, Mom, Dad, Tammy and I went out to the farm and Patty, Bob, and Mary were there and after a wonderful supper she turned out all the lights but one and we played "Button button who has the button" for a couple of hours having an absolute blast.
Tammy remembers going to the bathroom and on all of her door knobs she had either Christmas wreaths or Santa clauses (it must have been Christmas).
From Tammy-- "She was a wonderful crafter, had great gardens and she was really good cook. She always made sure she had cucumbers and onions for Dad and Mom because they loved them so much."
And she always made you feel so welcome when you came to see her. We had the best Great Aunts & Uncles. Each was our favorite when we were with them. Family reunions were the best when they all were there. Pitch card games were so much fun with all of therm. We miss them all a lot.
Sharon Kay McGinnis Messenger
Tannie McGinnis Cox
Aunt Jennie was solid. You could count on Aunt Jennie. She acted on her beliefs about life and God and that’s the way she was, day in and day out, no sham, no pretense.
Mom’s sister Aunt Dorothy remembered how Dad would always take them out to the farm when they came to Wray to visit, and how Aunt Jennie would welcome them in with a smile and make a good meal for them. I remember the same thing. And later, after she moved to assisted living at Parrish Care Center in Yuma, she still loved to take people out to eat and give them a good meal.
Often as I was growing up we’d go for a ride on Sunday afternoons, and it was remarkable how often those rides ended up at Aunt Jennie and Uncle Bert’s house. I’ve been told that Mom and Dad, when returning to Wray after one such visit in wintertime when I was only a few weeks old, had to turn back in a bad snowstorm before they’d gone half a mile and go back to Aunt Jennie and Uncle Bert’s to stay for a few days until they could get out and back to Wray through the snow. It was at that time that I slept in a dresser drawer. I remember Aunt Jennie’s loom in the basement, and watching her work it. And I remember the 8mm silent movies and home movies that we kids would watch sometimes downstairs, while the grownups were talking or playing cards upstairs. What a treat! One time Uncle Bert let me try to milk a cow. It looked easy, but it wasn’t.
When Shirley got married in June 1973, I went out to visit Aunt Jennie for a weekend while she was quilting the quilt she gave Shirley and Larry for their wedding, and Aunt Jennie showed me how to quilt and let me help. She had the big quilt frame that Uncle Bert made her set up in her front room, and it was great fun. When I stayed at Mom and Dad’s house in Haxtun by myself (they had moved back to Wray a few months earlier)for a month at Christmas time in 1981, working on my dissertation, Aunt Jennie had me out for Christmas dinner with Patty and Bob and family, and after some games of Uno sent me back to Haxtun before it got dark with a big box of food, enough to eat for several days. She had such a generous heart.
She loved projects and things to do, and she was always a giver of her time and talents. Even after she moved to the little house in Yuma, she would still have plaster of Paris casts to give our boys to paint when we went to visit her. She loved to garden and after she moved to Parrish Care, she still raised a few little tomato plants in the plot outside her window.
Dad always said that Aunt Jennie was a very good teacher. I loved hearing about her early days of teaching in a one-room school house, how she managed much with little, and how her students still remembered her decades later. When I worked on the Bookmobile from 1973-1976, I especially looked forward to our visits to Lone Star School, partly because it was such a neat, self-contained school out there on the high plains, but also because I got to see Aunt Jennie. She helped many children with reading and other life skills during her years at Lone Star.
Aunt Jennie had such a resilient spirit and positive attitude of faith and trust. She didn’t try to hold on to the past, accepted what life gave her, and was thankful and did her best with whatever place she was at in life on any given day. She told me once that she didn’t want to be in assisted living, but she knew when she moved there that it was where she needed to be, and she resolved to make the best of it and be happy there. When she couldn’t undertake big projects anymore, she made pot holders and crocheted little stars and bells. It didn’t bother her that the pot holders weren’t always perfect; they were the best she could do on the day she made them.
Every Christmas when we decorate our tree I take out the envelope with all the crocheted bells and stars that came from Aunt Jennie over the years, put them on the tree, and say a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving for her. Those bells and stars will be treasured even more now.
Aunt Jennie and her sisters and Dad were a generation of strength and faith and good example for all of us. We are so blessed to have had them and be heirs to such gifts.
Gail Oman King