Posts Tagged ‘Pehrson’

Recently we attended my aunt’s 95th birthday gathering. It wasn’t a big birthday party; only part of the family was able to be present on that particular day. Considering that I only have one aunt, though, she is pretty special!

Dave and I drove it as a one-day trip, even though it meant driving from southern Iowa to the northern most part of Iowa–a three-plus hour drive each way. My parents said that when they moved across the state, it meant my father had to change from farming in straight rows on the flat land in northern Iowa, to farming in circles, around the hills, in southern Iowa. The terrain is totally different.

Seeing my aunt and my cousins (3 girls) is always a special event. One cousin is my age, one is quite a bit older and the other several years younger (the younger one lives several states away and was not able to attend this party). I have heard amazing comments from people who have seen the cousin closest in age to me and then seen me. In the workplace setting, for example, people have told me that my cousin and I have similar mannerisms, even though we did not grow up together. Obviously, there is something in the blood.

Because cows have to be milked morning and night and our fathers had dairies, some years we were lucky if we got to see each other for three or four hours when our families would meet for a picnic somewhere between our homes.

My uncle and my father were brothers. My uncle passed away at age 65, and so did my father. Yet, my mother and my aunt have both celebrated their 95th birthdays this year.

My aunt had a stroke eight years ago and lost the use of one side. She has maintained a good attitude and even her sense of humor. While she didn’t actively participate in much of the conversation, she appeared to be listening and taking it all in. She is in a good care facility in the town where she and her daughters know many of the people.

We took pictures, everyone hugged and passed along well-wishes from absent family members. We were glad we could attend!



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At Vintage Hills

Since receiving both of Mom’s books from the publishers, I have arranged “book presentations” for her to give copies to select repositories. Since most places publish newsletters, this photo op makes a good item to fill space. So far, we have given books to the Vintage Hills Assisted-Living facility library, the Warren County Historical Library, the Genealogy section at the Indianola Public Library and the Trinity United Presbyterian Church library.

Reaction has been interesting. One lady commented that she is almost 90 and she wishes her family would do something like this. Another person said that she would like to do this for her grandmother. One person apparently thought I simply provided text and pictures to someone and the book magically happened. But, other people have asked for more detail about how it was created.

Prior to me completing the project, Mom expressed concern whether she would ever see the book; would she live long enough and if she did, would she be so blind that she literally wouldn’t be able to see it? Now that she has the book in her hands, she seems very appreciative and commented that probably not everyone has family members with skills to create books like these.

At any rate, people seem impressed with the memoirs in 8 1/2 x 11 format and the 248 pages filled with stories and 785 photos. They also like the idea of creating the photo book featuring 55 pieces of her artwork. People have also commented on the appearance, hard cover and binding of both books.

In general, however, I think many people don’t know how to react to this kind of project.

With Cynthia Moffitt, the activities director at Vintage Hills

With members of the Warren County Historical Society

With Alice Gaumer at the Indianola Public Library

With Susan Tinder and Rev. David Endriss at Trinity United Presbyterian Church


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The following is the script that I wanted placed on the back cover of Mom’s memoirs. However, due to space constraints, it had to be edited.

Thelma Butler descended from generations of American farmers. While her immediate family was small, she was surrounded by many aunts, uncles and cousins as she grew up on the family farm. She and her brother attended the same country school as their father, only a half mile from their home.

The men tilled the soil and tended the cattle and hogs on the farm; the women raised, preserved and prepared the food the family ate.

At age 12 Thelma won a Kodak Brownie camera. Many of the photos in this book are the result of that lucky day.

After Thelma graduated from high school, her father made a profound decision for her that has benefited her for the rest of her long life. He enabled her to get a four-year college education. However, in return, she had to live with and help her grandmother during those college years.

Following graduation, Thelma found teaching jobs, first in southern Iowa near the Missouri border, then in northern Iowa only a few miles from the Minnesota border. One of her students later became the man she married, Ray Pehrson.

After tragedy struck her family at the end of the WWII, Thelma and Ray moved from the flat land of northern Iowa to the southern Iowa rolling hills where he learned to farm in circles and operated a dairy farm.

Thelma and Ray raised three children. All were active in church, school, music, and 4-H, and all helped with work on the farm.

This book tells about the family’s activities with church and community groups. It tells about Thelma’s hobbies, her volunteer work, her friends, and her children and grandchildren.

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Introduction to Mom’s Memoirs

This project began on a Sunday afternoon in August 2007 to prepare for Mother’s 90th birthday celebration. Dave and I set up two video cameras on tripods in her living room to record her reminiscing. This continued for the next three Sunday afternoons. Then we took a field trip to some locations that have been important in her life. Our intent was to produce a video to show at her birthday party, but that didn’t happen.

A few months after her birthday I started transcribing the tapes and turning her story into a book. At first I planned a simple book with a hundred or so pages and perhaps as many photos. During the process, I found lots of pictures which prompted many questions and more stories. Thus the project grew.

When Mom didn’t remember the details, John and Marilea came to the rescue. All of us have worked to piece together these stories. Sometimes decisions were made to use photos of lesser quality to tell a more complete story. Including the introductory pages and the index, this book has 248 pages with approximately 785 photos.

The longer I worked on this book, the more important I realized it is to chronicle such personal journeys for future generations. These memoirs tell of days gone by. Mother can never relive those years, neither can we, except as we read about them and see the images here. These stories help us better understand our heritage.

Enjoy and treasure!
Marieta Pehrson Grissom
February 2013

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