Hawbaker Family Stories

Hawbaker Siblings

Marge, Barbara, Hazel, Russell, Helen, Dorothy, Joyce (1988)


Villageville 7/2011

Mary Hawbaker's Babies 7/2011

Side Effect of Aunt Annie's Medicine 7/2011

Earl Hawbaker's Tractor 7/2011

Four Old Women 9/2011

Barbara Hawbaker in Trouble 9/2011

How Aunt Barb met Uncle Tom 9/2011

Aunt Barb and Uncle Tom move to Rushsylvania 9/2011

Rick Moore's Birth 9/2011

Rick Moore's many hospitalizations 9/2011

Barb Moore's Favorite Vacations 9/2011

Margaret talks about the gardens & canning meat (1/15/2012)

Margaret talks about family travels (1/15/2012)

Margaret (Part 1) Childhood home (1/29/12)

Margaret (Part 2) Attic and Basement (1/29/12)

Grandpa's Tractor


Every summer, my family took a trip to Iowa to visit Grandma Hawbaker on the farm. One of the first trips I remember was when Grandpa was still alive, possibly the summer of 1962 or 63. He wanted me to sit on his lap but I was frightened by his missing finger and his eye that turned in so far. I never got to know him well enough to play with him like my older sister and cousins. He passed away after a stroke in 1964 when he was 82, and I was five years old. After that, Grandma lived by herself on the farm. She'd come out on the porch to greet us as we drove up. I'd give her a quick kiss on her incredibly soft cheek, and then spend the rest of the week playing all over the farm. It was no longer a working farm, so all the buildings were empty. They were perfect for exploring and pretending. We fixed up the old pig sty one year to make into a playhouse. Sometimes we stood up on the sides of old barrels in the yard and rolled them like log rollers. I climbed the trees, jumped from the hay mow, and climbed partway up the windmill with my cousin Rick once. I loved exploring the attic with all of its old treasures. My favorite room was the tiny one just to the left at the top of the stairs. It had room for just one twin bed so I had the room all to myself. It faced east so I woke up with the sun. Grandma was already awake and working in her garden, and I'd go swing on the swing that hung between two large trees. I loved those mornings.
--Cindy Hansen

When I was about 8 years old, we took our annual trip to Iowa despite the fact that I had an earache. It turned into a terrible infection by the time we got there. I spent that week in bed or on the couch. My Aunt Joyce came upstairs one day to visit with me. In an effort to distract me from my pain, she told me a very fun story that I'll never forget. It was about a person who lived in a house that had a roof made out of Saran Wrap! They used the cutter bar on the Saran Wrap box as a boot scraper.
--Cindy Hansen

Digging the pool
Margaret, Barbara in wagon, Joyce

Pool Party
Barbara, Wayne, Ruth, Lois, Margaret - Shirley Boren (Ruth's sister) with back to camera

In 1942, when the swimming pools were closed in the nearby town of Adel because of polio, Dorothy decided that she wanted us to have a pool of our own. She talked this over with her cohort, Joyce, and together they went to Dad to make a plea for a swimming pool in our side yard. Dad, being a wise father and thinking that he had the way to stifle this yen, said that if they dug it themselves they could have one. He wasn't counting on the stubbornness of his daughters. They agreed to dig it. Dorothy had big plans to make a large pool that would take up most of the west yard. Dad argued with some reason and said it needed to be near the ditch so the water could drain out. I imagine he helped them to measure the chosen spot and perhaps even helped remove the sod from the area to be used somewhere else. Once the dimensions were set, any of the girls who were able commenced the digging. Barbara was only five years old and couldn't handle a spade so she helped Dorothy haul away the dirt with her little red wagon. Dorothy used the larger wagon. All summer long this back breaking work of digging and hauling went on. There is no record of the month they began but Dad's diary states in the middle of August he cemented the sides of the pool. He hired a neighbor, Jim Taylor, to do the bottom of the pool and lay the drain pipe and tiling to go out to the ditch. I would guess that the cement was probably hard enough to use the pool that summer although the girls all had to start school during the last week of August. You can imagine what they did as soon as they arrived home.

The pool was used every summer by the Hawbaker girls and nieces and nephews. Sometimes there would be a guest such as Ruth's relatives.  Even after all of the girls graduated from high school and left home for college, the pool was still used during the summertime. We brought our children to enjoy the cooling effects of this pleasure pit.

Eventually, the pool stood empty and became a depository for limbs and branches that had blown or were cut off of trees. Soon no family members lived on the farm and shortly after this it was sold. The new owners turned this "cement pond" back into a garden by filling it with dirt and planting flowers and showy plants. However, they have not erased the marks of the pool. I once found the farm on a Google map. By turning it  up to its highest resolution I could see the outline of the pool sitting in the yard just where we left it.
--Barbara Z. Hawbaker Moore

In the summer we would visit my Grandma Hawbaker. There were lots of things to do but at this particular moment my sister Cindy and I were just sitting around. My Grandma offered to pay us $4.00 an hour to pull this certain weed from the corn field. I don't remember what this weed is called now but I think it had the word "lamb" in it. I was pretty young but even if I wasn't,  $4.00 an hour was a good wage. We jumped at the idea. I had all sorts of dreams for what I'd do with the money and planned on pulling this weed for at least 4 hours. It was very very hot and the corn was much much taller than I was. Almost immediately I got lost in the field and could not figure out how to get out! I was getting eaten alive by bugs and the corn leaves were cutting me. I panicked and yelled for Cindy to help. I ended up having to follow her voice to safety.  I doubt I worked an entire hour. That year I learned that earning money was no bed of roses!
--Melissa Kochanski

I think I was around 8 and we were visiting my Grandma Hawbaker, my Aunt Barbara and my cousin Ricky were there too. I followed Ricky around and was probably a big pest. He was fun because he was so adventurous and I wanted to be just like him. That year we climbed the windmill, jumped from the opening in the top of the barn, and walked the top floor of the barn where my foot went through the floor boards.  I came back to the house with a limp. My Mom asked me why I was limping and when I told her I jumped from the barn she got pretty mad at me. 
--Melissa Kochanski

SO THAT'S THE HOW OF IT!!!  The basement of our old farm house was an
interesting place.  It had a cement floor, and I can't remember it ever being
flooded as so many basements often are in the area where I live.  The furnace
room held the all important furnace, as well as separate compartments for coal
and cobs.  These fuels were loaded into the rooms from the outside through
windows into each compartment.  On the wall between the cob and coal
compartments were two large nails on which Russell and Dad hung rabbits to be
skinned.  Rabbits were plentiful in the wintertime.  When fried, they tasted
almost like chicken.

The furnace room also contained a large iron caldron mounted on a stove.  A
water pipe was mounted above it so that it could be filled with water to be
heated for washing clothes.  There was still enough room for two washing
machines and rinse tubs.  A floor drain allowed for the empytying of the
machines and tubs when the washing was finished.  (There were times when the
laundry was done in the main basement, and the machines filled from the water
pipes out there.  Water was heated by a little laundry stove that was connected
to the water pipes.  I'm not sure how all this worked, so no questions, please.)
The furnace room also had a shower head mounted above the floor drain.  On hot,
dusty days, we liked to go in there and take a refreshing shower.  On one such
day, Dorothy and I were enjoying the cool water when we heard the furnace room
door open.  There stood Aunt Annie.  "So that's the how of it!" she said.  (Her
favorite saying)  We were soo embarassed to be seen without our clothes on!
Aunt Annie's saying lives on--even my grandchildren are heard to utter it from
time to time--"SO THAT'S THE HOW OF IT!"
--Joyce Irminger

Lois Hawbaker
Lois Marie Hawbaker  1943 - 1960

Russell and Ruth's daughter Lois and I had many good times together. Our favorite pastime was playing "beauty shop". We would go up to my room and gather comb, brush and some pink, foam hair curlers. Then we would retire to the couch, which was our "beauty shop". Lois always wanted to be the beautician, which was fine with me since I love having my hair played with. This may have been left over from Mom combing my hair each morning when I wore braids. Lois would first wash my hair by me leaning back on the couch's arm while she pretended to spray water over my head and and shampoo the hair well. Then she would comb it out and put the pink curlers in, any-which-way. After this I had to sit under the hair dryer. We had an old, lamp near the couch with a blue shade covering its one bulb. This somewhat resembled a hair dryer. She would pull the lamp so it pointed over my head, turn it on and make swishing noises for the air coming out. When my hair was dry she removed the curlers and then brushed the hair into a fancy new hairdo. I was always sorry when she was finished.

Lois had contracted cancer at age three and battled with it her whole life. Fluid would gather in her abdomen. Later a hemorrhage occurred in her stomach wall and she had a bubble of the fluid protruding from her abdomen. When this became too full she would need to travel the thirty miles to Des Moines to have it drained. Sometimes she had to make this trip every few days. In all of this suffering she remained bright and cheerful the greater part of her days. She passed away in April of 1960 at age sixteen. She is remembered fondly by all who knew her.
--Barbara Z. Hawbaker Moore

I was born a twin--and have continued to be one--even though Marjorie died as a baby.
Twin-ness was part of me.

When I made up a "pretend" family for the "pretend town" my sisters invented, it had several twins in it. I was not one--I already had Marjorie--but there were others.  One set was a brother and sister just older than I was, and another set belonged to my "pretend" older brother Larry and his wife.

One day, Joyce gave me a great gift.  She bounced into the house and told me that Larry and his wife had just had Quints! (This was the time the Dionne quintuplets were much in the news.) Quints!
Their names, Joyce told me, were Jean, Jane, Joan, June and Jackie.  I couldn't have been happier.
A set of twins and a set of quints in the same family.  What more could this remaining-half-of-a-set of twins, want.
--Margaret Hawbaker Schinlaub

When I was a child I read everything I could get my hands on.  I didn't yet have access to a library, but there were many old magazines in the attic.  I got some vague sense of what sex was about from a health magazine. 

My sisters and I had a few books--among them a set of Pollyanna books. She was the daughter of a very poor minister who couldn't often afford gifts for her.  One year a Missionary Barrel arrived and Pollyanna longed for it to contain a doll.  As it turned out, the only thing for a child was a set of crutches.  As Pollyanna cried, her father told her she should "be glad she didn't need them."  So, she determine to be "glad, glad, glad" about all kinds of dreadful things. Why was I reading that?  I was hungry for books.

One day I was sick in bed and had to stay home from school.  Desperate to entertain myself, I read three Pollyanna books in a row. I always said it was lucky I didn't get sugar diabetes from the surfeit of sugar.
--Margaret Hawbaker Schinlaub

There were two phones on the wall just inside the east door. All the farms west of us were on Minburn telephone lines, while all on the east had Dallas Center phones, so we had both. We were constantly being called and asked to relay a message to a party on the other system, in order to save the five or ten cents for a toll call. Some of the wires that came into the house were bare and parallel, and there were times that Papa would lay a piece of wire across the two and let two parties talk to each other.
Businesses in town usually had private lines, but homes and farms were on party lines, with as many as a dozen on one line. Each party had a special ring, so that when the phone rang, one would know when to answer the phone and when to listen in (rubber) on your neighbor’s conversation. Our ring was a long and four shorts. Some on party lines liked to keep up on all the neighbors’ activities. The more receivers that were off the hook, the more power it took from the telephone batteries, and the harder it was to hear. Example: A young woman got a phone call from her husband in the armed forces and could hardly hear him. Next day a neighbor lady told her “I felt so sorry for you last night. I could hear him just as plain as could be!"
--Russell Hawbaker

This subject was not talked about much at our house. There was one time when Papa gave me a booklet telling how a baby is formed in a nest in the mothers tummy, etc. By that time, I already had found out all that and a lot more. Living on a farm with barn-yard animals provided a certain amount of sex education, such as animals being born. I remember going with Papa to Harry Hill’s with a milk cow in the horse-drawn wagon. I stayed with the horses while the cow went to a rendezvous with Hill’s bull. At the time I was wondering about what kind of position they could use, as the cow’s “thing” was under her tail and the bull’s “thing” was under his belly.
--Russell Hawbaker

The wanderlust in Mamma’s only full brother caused him to leave home as a young man and seek adventure in the west. While there, he caught his right arm in some machinery and it had to be removed at the shoulder. He visited a place that made various substitutes for arms, legs, etc. After watching for some time, he went back and made his own. It was a cushioned leather “saddle” that fit on his shoulder, held in place by a leather strap that went under his left arm. From this “saddle” hung an arm-length leather strap with a leather loop and a metal hook at the bottom. With this combination, he could lift, carry, use a pitch fork, scoop, shovel, and do about anything else that anyone could do except write or point with that arm...from him I learned how to roll a cigarette with one hand, also how to light a book match one-handedly. One time he was rubbing his right shoulder. He said his right hand was itching.
--Russell Hawbaker

Uncle Russell ran a hardware store for many years. I remember visiting it when we went to Iowa. He had everything in there! Thus the name of the store: The (almost) Everything Store. It had a cash register that was built in 1917 (same year Russell was born) that they used until they closed the store in about 1983. He had a paint can shaker in his store. They often shook up cans of paint that people brought in, just as a courtesy. One lady brought in some paint in a coffee can. My aunt didn't know any better and put the coffee can on the shaker. Paint went everywhere! My uncle says that he didn't say anything because "there was nothing in his vocabulary to fit the occasion."
--Cindy Hansen

I walked into the garage one day to find Danny [grandson] standing on the seat of his tricycle to reach a tool that I thought was out of his reach. He was not the least bit worried about falling from this very unstable perch. Maybe he takes after his Grandpa Hawbaker, who at about that age, climbed the side of the corn crib, and then some years later would ride down the highway, standing upright on the seat of his motorcycle with arms outstretched, at 40 mph or more.
--Russell Hawbaker

When it came time for Ruth to deliver, we made a rush trip to the hospital in Des Moines, driving ahead of the doctor, just in case we didn’t get there in time. When Wayne and Lois were born, as soon as information and financial arrangements were taken care of, I was herded into a small waiting room with other prospective fathers. When Bonnie was born, I was permitted to walk up and down the halls to help induce labor. When June was born, the rules had been relaxed further and I was with her in labor until her water broke. As they wheeled her into the delivery room, she was screaming, "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!" I lighted a cigaret and picked up a magazine to read while waiting. The cigaret was not yet half gone, when a nurse appeared with June in her arms, and said, "What do you think of this?"
--Russell Hawbaker

Many years ago, my Dad gave me a $20 bill as a birthday gift. I have carried this, tucked away in my wallet, out of sight. Several times I have been short of cash and remembered it and spent it, but always promptly replaced it. I still carry this $20 bill hidden away in my wallet. (Different paper, same gift)
--Russell Hawbaker

Some of the more enjoyable moments of my life were those spent fishing with my grandchildren. Tommy went camping with us one summer. It was then that I taught him to remove a hook from a sunfish by putting his foot on it to immobilize it. He caught a large Bull Head and expressed a desire to eat it. I cleaned it and cooked it and the two of us had a tasty snack. Aaron caught his first fish in a farm pond south of Minburn. I can see him yet running down the path toward his parents with the tiny fish dangling from the end of the rod, saying: "I caught a fish. I caught a fish. I caught a fish." Another time, June's kids and Shad were with us at a campground. I took the kids fishing and they caught small blue-gills (bream). I was taking the hook out of the first one that Chris caught and was about to throw it back, when she said "I want to take it back to camp and show Grandma." We took the catch back and showed them to Ruth, then the kids said "We want to eat them." Not having much of an excuse not to, I cleaned them and ended up with a couple of good bites for each of us. Ruth made a batter to dip them in before frying, which made each bite a little larger. It wasn't much, but it was surely some of the best tasting fish I ever ate. There were many more pleasant times spent by the "ole fishin' hole". These memories, I will cherish forever.
--Russell Hawbaker

From time to time, Ruth and I have exchanged valentine greetings. While in the Navy, I sent her a fancy 8" x 10" card that came in a box that was priced at one dollar. Now this was back when greeting cards sold for 5 cents and 10 cents. She was thrilled with this card. I have always been glad that I broke down and spent the buck. At one time, I was carrying my lunch to work at the store. I fixed a cheese or jelly sandwich or two, a couple of hard boiled eggs, and maybe some fruit. When Ruth started to bring me a hot meal at noon, lunch became a lot more fun. One Valentine's Day, with my lunch was a heart cut from red construction paper, and in Ruth's handwriting "I Love You". I wrote a reply and put it back in the lunch box. Next day the heart was back with my lunch, and another note. This went back and forth with the lunch box for some time. I'll never forget this, the best valentine card I ever received. At one point in our marriage, Ruth was giving me a birthday card every year. I don’t know how many years this went on before I realized that it was the same card. Currently, I have been doing the same thing with a valentine card. This same card has been saying "I Love You" to my valentine for several years now, and is still going strong. After all, isn't it the thought that counts?
--Russell Hawbaker

My husband, Everett, played a little game with our 6 kids when we drove on the Mississippi River bridge. The 3 youngest are girls and they liked to hold their breath to see if it could be done from the time we entered until the time we left the bridge. Everett realized what they were doing and slowed the car to a snail's pace and the girls were gasping for air as we left the bridge!
--Carolyn Cox Hawbaker

Every summer our family drove from Wisconsin to Iowa for a visit to Grandma's farm in Dallas Center. When we crossed the Mississippi River, my parents always told us to "put our little red boots on!" As if we had to cross on foot...
--Cindy Hansen

My Mother tells the story (and I heard it from my dad also) that he was the designated executioner of stray cats on the farm when he was a boy or teenager. The barn cats were frequently rewarded for their mouse-killing services with a shot of warm milk from the cow as Everett milked them. One day my grandfather John M. decided a large stray cat couldn't stay there anymore and told Everett to get rid of it. He put the cat in a burlap sack, tied it shut and took it out into the field. He backed away and put several shots into it with his .22 rifle. He left it there, intending to come back later to dispose of the dead cat. Somehow the cat managed to get out of the sack and was waiting for him at the barn door when he returned! That must have been his eighth cat-life, because he didn't survive the next trip to the field. Everett and his siblings attended the Sugar Grove No. 4 school south of Minburn Iowa. One day the teacher, Mrs. Capp, sent Everett and a couple of the older boys to the basement to get coal for the stove. There they discovered a live mouse, captured it and brought it upstairs. Everett decided it might be interesting to place the mouse in the teacher's desk drawer. When she eventually opened the drawer and saw the mouse, she was so frightened she leaped to the top of the desk screaming and wouldn't come down until the mouse was removed. She used a heavy geography book for a paddle and put it to use after the incident. Another teacher used a part of a cane as a paddle with which to spank errant children. One time Everett was to receive his spanking for misbehaving. He "assumed the position" and as the stick was descending toward his posterior, he raised his foot behind him and the stick broke across the sole of his boot. He received several extra blows with an alternative instrument of punishment for that one!
--Jim Hawbaker

A Minburn, Iowa stream of thoughts….. No better 4th of July celebration: three legged races, fireworks without having to worry about the neighbors (they were there lighting them too), parade and all just across the street from Grandpa Russ and Grandma Ruth’s house. And various jello creations. Lots of jello creations. And square dances, the famous square dances. As a young boy it was a gathering of adults doing funny dances in funny clothes to funny music – but it kept the adults occupied, leaving us kids and cousins to assault the buffet table and play in the shadows. And Grandpa Russ’s portraiture work. Those that know it are grinning. Funny small world note about the square dances. I am married to a good Polish Catholic girl. She is the daughter of a now retired UNI professor and Cedar Falls, Iowa daycare provider extraordinaire. Her paternal grandparents were Woodrow (Woody) and Katheryn Wilson. Woody and Katheryn lived on a farm in Jamaica, Iowa, a stones throw from Minburn. Cutting a long story too short, turns out Woody and Katheryn had attended one or more of the infamous Hawbaker square dances. Small world indeed. I may have met them before I met my wife. And wine. Russ made homemade wine out of anything with starch in it, cherry his favorite made from the tree by the garage but also green tomato and dandelion wine. Oh, yes, and spaghetti wine. I had my first sip (certainly not the last) of wine as a young boy in Russ’s basement, it was a supervised sip – dad and grandpa were at hand, of the cherry – ruined my palate forever. To this day I have no concept of a dry wine. All wine to mean is simply a varying degree of sweetness. I am think Russ may have skimped on the sugar a bit and my lips have been permanently parched since. And horseshoes. Whatever happened to that game? My dad was an avid horseshoe thrower and, much to my youthful competitive disappointment, much better at it than I. Missing him and Ruth and Russ. All good memories.
--Aaron Hawbaker

Copyright Kevin and/or Cindy Hansen