Aunt Norie’s sewing room
Henrietta Bradley today shares some very interesting history and a story of the life of her mother, Mary Gast, who grew up in this area.
She was born in 1906, one of 11 children. In 1928 she married Francis Gast. They had 15 children. The first eight were born at home, the rest in a hospital. Henrietta was third in line, so she herself lived and remembers a lot of the following story.
As a child, their transportation was a carriage drawn by a team of horses the 7 or 8 miles to town. It was a big event when they got their first car in 1923. It would travel at 30 mph, so very fast compared to the horses.
Mary grew up as all of our pioneers did. People made most of what they had. She tells about how they plucked the chickens carefully so as not to waste any of the feathers, especially the down of the geese. They made those big fluffy and oh so soft feather ticks (mattresses), which of course was a tremendous job. So it was a great thing when during World War I, a mattress factory came to Basehor.
There were a lot of people there all of the time making mattresses. They would stack the layers of cotton, spreading and pounding it with a whisk to shape, flatten and pack the cotton down. They made it about 6 inches high. The factory had cloth to fit and cover and needles about 12 inches long. They hand-stitched and tied the layers snugly, finished the edges and all — quite an event and a huge undertaking, “but those mattresses lasted for years.”
She remembers the fun times, how the kids used the long tough goose feathers (that stiff point) for ink pens.
They made their own ink from crushed polk berries, how badly it stained if they got it on anything. You bought straight ink pens at the store for a penny each. Those points would hold about a drop of ink, then you had to dip it in the ink well again.
They made heavy comforters for covers at night with all of those children — three in a bed and sometimes another across the foot of the bed.
Her wood cook stove was a large oven in which she could bake six loaves of bread at once.
After they got the car, one night going to midnight mass the lights went out. Those early automobiles had a generator that generated and stored power for the headlights. With no flashlights being made, folks carried the farm chore lantern to hang over the radiator to continue on if the lights did go out.
Thanks, Henrietta, for sharing with us.
I’m wondering how many there are still around who also remember that mattress factory.
Count your blessings and pray for our leaders and our troops now.
Aunt Norie, P.O. Box 265, Tonganoxie 66086; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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