Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: May I Introduce Mr. and Mrs. Frank Howland

This is a photo of my adoptive maternal grandparents, Frank and Lula (Conrad) Howland.  Frank was born in Greeley Township, Audubon County, Iowa on 01 Mar 1897.  His parents were Rufus and Viola (Phelps) Howland.  Lula was born in Bear Grove Township, Guthrie County, Iowa on 29 Mar 1900.  She was the daughter of Henry and Emily (Witt) Conrad.

During the early 1970's, my mother had several conversations with her parents and recorded them for family history.  One of the conversations was about their courtship.  It was common that socializing included house parties or socials.

While Grandpa was remembering those fun times long ago, he stated, "Yeah, we cut up a lot in church; we even went outside and had swigs of whiskey when we could at night socials. I always noticed that pretty and quiet little Lula Conrad. Guess I was about 12 to 14 when we moved to that neighborhood and started going to that church. She was about 10 or 11. She never paid any attention to me. One time when we was older, maybe she was 14 or 15, me and my buddies was sittin' behind her one Sunday. Her neck looked so pretty and soft They dared me to touch it and I couldn't pass up a dare so I got up the nerve to touch her neck but she ignored me and acted like she didn't notice."

Grandma continued, "I'd go to the Bethel church. I remember seeing a woman, I knew her by sight and knew she was Mrs. Rufus Howland, Viola was her first name. She came to our church sometimes and was usually leading her little boy down the aisle. His name was George. Some of the rest of her family was scattered around in the congregation. There was one boy, Frank who sat with his brother, Claude, and some of the other roustabouts. They always seemed to be more interested in whispering and snickering and up to whatever they could get away with. All the men wore hats which they laid aside themselves in church. I couldn't help sort of noticing what this row of smart alecks were up to but had to pretend I never saw a thing. One day when everybody stood up to sing I saw that Frank Howland reach over the seat in front of him and slide this old bachelor's hat over behind him so when the guy sat down he sat on his hat, much snickering and poking went on, and what a dirty look they got from the man."

When Mother asked her about dating, she said, "I just didn't dare dream of 'dates'.  The folks wouldn't approve of that, I needed to stay home and work, or hire out. Dad snarled and growled at everybody anyway, how could I have a date?  At least we went to house parties so I did see other young folks."

Grandpa died in 1972 and Grandma came to live with us for a while.  During this time, she had another conversation with Mother about her teen years.  This conversation was recorded as well and later transcribed.

"I remember one time we went to somebody's house gathering there was music and dancing. I was about 14 or 15. I noticed that some of the Howland family was there. I especially noticed that Frank, there was just something different about him. He was in his middle teens, so full of pranks and orneriness, always with a crowd of the same kind. Some of them I went to grade school with. Frank's older sister, Clarinda, usually played the pump organ, or piano. That was our music. Anyway, I couldn't keep my eyes off that Frank as long as no one noticed me starin'. Oh he held himself so stiff and straight, he was quite slender. When he waltzed he would hold his head so stiff and smooth you could have set a water glass on his head. Our families was at the same gatherings several times, I just sat in a chair and watched, that was what my folks expected me to do. Finally when I was older, maybe 16, that Frank asked me to dance and oh how my heart went pitter-patter. He had his own team and buggy by then. The big thing was to take a girl home from these parties, but my folks wouldn't let me do that.”

As the saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Grandma went on.  “Somehow I let it out to Frank that I wasn't always staying at home and he took to comin' around and takin' me for rides and even to parties in the evenings when my work was done. Pretty soon we was going steady, courtin' as we said in those days. I was and Frank was 20. Oh what a picture he made with his matched team and his fancy buggy. Everything was always so spic and span and shiny. The horses was curried, the harness gleamed, bells jinglin' the buggy all clean and shinned up. Lots of times we visited his three sisters, married and scatter around. Minnie lived in Adair and Bertha out from Anita.

"From then on Frank started coming over after I would be at home with the folks. I just started going off with him. I guess the folks thought I was old enough. I was 17 but we both had birthdays in March, 1918 and we became 18 and 21. We began to talk about getting married. Frank was hiring out as a farm hand and I used some of my money to buy the white minon for a wedding dress. I don’t know where I got the pattern I used but I went to work on the dress at home in whatever spare time I could get. I didn’t announce that I was getting married but Mom got the idea with me at the sewing machine so much with all that white material.”

Frank's sister, Bertha, was married to Albert Paul.  They had a farm in neighboring Cass County.

“We went there the most, almost every Sunday for dinner. They didn't have any kids yet. She helped us plan our wedding day, July 3rd (1918). On the day before, or maybe it was that morning, Frank came and got me at home and we went to their place. So, it was either the same day or the next (3rd) that I put on my wedding dress and they went with us to Atlantic and stood up with us at our wedding in the court house. We went in their car, a Model T. Then we went back to their place for a big chicken wedding supper and spent the night. The next day we went back to my folks and announced we were married and Frank went to work for my dad and we slept in the big room upstairs, the north room and life went on as usual.  Dad wasn't too thrilled over his new wild son-in-law but folks pointed out to him that he finally had a son and someone to help him out. That didn't stop him from his constant growling.”

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post! What a gift to have your mother's conversations with her parents about their courtship. Thoroughly enjoyed this.