Childhood- and youth-fired memories

Post 20/2021 Friday 14 May . . . Thirty-seven years ago, my sister Kaye rounded up memories of our paternal grandparents, Solomon and Rachel (Yutzi) Bender, to be shared at a reunion that summer on the theme, “Remembering.” I was reunited with these treasures in rereading them this week. Rich. Telling. Timeless. For instance, Dad wrote: “In winter we stored ice in sawdust to make ice cream and to keep the milk and butter cool in the summer when it was hot.” Also, “We went to Sunday school and were given little cards with a verse of scripture. Then we had to say it.”

The oldest grandchild, my brother, Sandy, recalled leading the horse as Solomon, whom we called Pop, scuffled the garden. He added, “Best of all was driving the milk truck. I used to drive and Pop stayed on the back to load and unload cans. I can still do a fancy double clutch. I was probably the first 13-year-old truck driver.”

Cousin Bertha remembered riding with Pop on his milk route. “I was there for holidays one time when I was about 8 or 10 years old. Grandpa woke me up early, probably the first time I got up so early, to go with him. We collected the milk cans from the farmers, then delivered the milk to the German Union Cheese and Butter Company.”

Cousin Ralph recalled Grandpa saying, “To be a farmer you have to have a four inch nail and a jack knife in your pocket and manure on your boots.”

Cousin Robert remembered “going to church with Pop and Granny and on the way Granny would give us a humbug or peppermint.”

Cousin David remembered, “They always had salted biscuits on the stove and I always wanted to get into them!”

Cousin Luanna remembered “going to the cheese factory. He made sure we got a piece of cheese. He had his own arm chair. Once in a while it was a privilege to get to sit on this chair. After Pop was gone, I also remember how sad and lonely Grandma was.”

Aunt Elvera recalled using broken dishes to decorate her playhouse. Also making mud pies. Poignantly she wrote, “I only had one doll, bought at Graftons in Woodstock. We bought our clothes at this store and received coupons for buying them there. It was these coupons that we used to buy this doll. I was over 10 years of age when I got it.” Of her parents she said, “I remember both of them reading their Bible and praying out loud. Dad liked reading in the Proverbs and Mother had a well-worn prayer book. We had good times and some sad times.”

I wrote that I remembered Herbie, the Jersey cow; a few pigs; chickens for market; two large vegetable gardens interspersed with flowers; making maple syrup; butchering and smoking the meat. In an earlier family account, I wrote: “A favored place at Pop and Grandma’s house was sitting around their table. There we played games, ate snacks, heard Bible readings, told stories over dinner, and at the end of every meal would bow our heads when Pop said, ‘”Let’s return thanks.'”

Farm kids

Marty and I both grew up on farms. We learned to play, work, attend school and church, and discover the world in the context of a close-knit rural community. As infants, children and youth we mingled with extended family, neighbors, people at church and school mates. At church and school we learned of a world beyond the hum of home. The phrase current at my graduating Grade 8 was, “Now you’re leaving a small pond to jump into a big pond.”

First waterlily blossoms at River Preserve County Park, Elkhart County.

I jumped into the pond of attending Rockway Mennonite School, Kitchener, Ontario. Marty, like her sisters before her, jumped into the pond of attending Shipshewana-Scott High School in Shipshewana, Indiana. After high school, I attended Stratford Teachers College but decided teaching was not my cup of tea. From there I got a job with a wholesale grocer and later enrolled at Waterloo Lutheran University (later to become Wilfrid Laurier University).

From the keen sense of being and belonging that we absorbed in our growing up years, Marty and I ventured into higher education, jobs, expanded friendships, living overseas. Through mutual friends, we were introduced to each other, felt that spark of connection, were married, and the rest is jam-packed with concentric circles from countless dollops of being and doing. This month we celebrated our wedding anniversary (getting close to 50).

Once, with sheer delight, we learned to crawl, stand, walk and run, so today, with sheer delight, we imaginatively, and actually, gambol about like newborn lambs. Well, you get the picture. We carry on, welcoming life’s adventures old and new.

Breakfast on the egg farm

We celebrated our wedding anniversary by going out for breakfast at Creighton’s Crazy Egg Café & Coffee Bar, near Warsaw, Indiana. It was our first visit. Thankfully, satellite navigation guided us on back roads to 4217 Old Road 30. After breakfast we parked in downtown Warsaw for a walk about town and along a new walk/cycle path that connects to Winona Lake. Thankfully the sidewalk/trail planners included two restrooms along the route. It was encouraging, too, to see new neighborhood children’s play parks along the way.
It looks like the café earlier served as a loading dock. Soon the doors can be opened and breakfast and lunch enjoyed outside. Among our breakfast choices we shared three Scotch eggs (hardboiled eggs wrapped in sausage and crusted in kettle chips). Excellent coffee.
A Farmall 560 Diesel, it’s working hours proudly done, greets you as you enter the café lobby.
What did we take home after a bountiful breakfast that lasted us all day? A dozen farm fresh eggs.

Some Kosciusko County businesses

Warsaw has been dubbed the orthopedic capital of the world. These companies include DuPuy Synthes, Paragon Medical, Tecomet and Zimmer Biomet.

Agriculturally-related firms include CTB, Inc., Milford, a leading global designer, manufacturer and marketer of systems and solutions for the poultry, pig, egg production and grain industries. Maple Leaf Farms, Leesburg, supplies retail and foodservice markets with poultry products, including Pekin duck.

Kosciusko County Courthouse in Warsaw. The city’s population in 2010 was more than 77,000. The county, organized in 1836, was named for the Polish general Tadeusz Kosciuszko who served in the American Revolutionary War and then returned to Poland. The county seat is named for Warsaw, the capital of Poland.
The new cycle/walk route leading from downtown Warsaw to Winona Lake includes several children’s parks.


Clunette is an unincorporated community near Leesburg, dominated by the Clunette Elevator Co., one of the largest agricultural retailers in northern Indiana. Today the company provides custom fertilizer and chemical applications and is a dealer for Pioneer seed, AgLeader Technology products and Trimble GPS equipment.

The pleasure of slow travel on backroads includes the feeling that you’re crossing through a precious harvest basket.
Driving home on country roads, in Elkhart County we came upon this field of rape seed, or rapaseed, oil seed plants, used for Canola oil. The plant is a member of the mustard family and is formally known as Brassica napus.
Time for a nuzzle.

River Preserve County Park, Elkhart County

Resident garden plots at Greencroft

Those are strawberries, amazingly in bloom in early May.

The fruit of the land

From the Coptic Orthodox Liturgy, Egypt: “Bless, O Lord, the plants, the vegetation, and the herbs of the field, that they may grow and increase to fullness and and bear much fruit. And may the fruit of the land remind us of the spiritual fruit we should bear.”

Year 1918 news from the town of Tavistock, Ontario

Clips for the year 1918, from Yesterday, (Vol. 33, Fall 2018) publication of the Tavistock and District Historical Society, Tavistock, Ontario:

“Annual meeting of the German Union Cheese & Butter Manufacturing Co. Ltd., records 200 tons of cheese made.” (February)

“UK Government pleads for more food from Canada as shortages are dire. Millions starving in Europe. Canadian government reports that 50,000 men will be needed for the harvest. (March and months following)

“Lemp’s Drug Store’s Christmas present suggestions include shaving brushes and motor goggles for men. The Glasgow Warehouse suggests boudoir caps and beaver coats for women. George McKay, General Merchant, expects the Christmas shipment of oranges shortly.”(December)

Happy memories

Happy plowing/ploughing/planting/weeding/scuffling/reaping memories of your own. Thank you, Kaye!


4 thoughts on “Childhood- and youth-fired memories

  1. Memories, I have sweet memories of Pop and Granny. Your memory is the glue that binds your life together. Your memory is where your life is lived. Each day is a gift and as long as my eyes are open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away. So many things to laugh and smile about from days gone by. Funny I can still see Granny washing lettuce from the garden and emptying the chamber pot.


    1. Thanks, Kaye. One of Granny’s sayings was, “Come again soon.” Hope we can practice that again soon.


    1. You’ll enjoy the café and the drive if you travel backroads on the way home. Take along a cooler for a couple dozen eggs. Enjoy!


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