My maternal grandparents married in 1924. My grandma, Jacoba Berghuis graduated from high school in Sioux Center Iowa, May 1924. She immediately went to Des Moines for her teaching certificate which she obtained in October the same year, with spectacular grades. That’s about 4 months to get her teaching degree! I have her diploma (it’s beautiful). She started teaching, married my grandpa, Gerrit, nicknamed (Lakey) Wanningen in December. In those days, married women were not allowed to teach, so they kept their marriage a secret. I’m sure they continued to “date,” but you know back in 1924 there was no way were they living together. Lakey was very tall, somewhat awkward, and a few years older than Coba. He felt that he was the luckiest guy in the world.
|My grandma, Jacoba Berghuis HS graduation, 1924…|
At the end of the school year in 1926, Coba and Gerrit would come clean on their marriage as they were expecting a child. Wonder if they had to show their marriage license as proof? My mom Florence Elaine, and her twin brother Floyd Duane were born on December 13, 1926. Twins were a big deal in the small town of Sioux Center.
|Floyd and Florence Wanningen, 1927…|
Write ups in the paper, things were great, but Coba at just 20, was not bouncing back from this difficult childbirth. Kidney complications set in and the newborns lost their beautiful mom when they were 10 days old. My mom always felt that her dad blamed her and Floyd for taking away his beautiful young wife. Certainly Gerrit could not raise the babies. Both sets of grandparents however were vying for the chance to raise the twins. Coba’s parents were younger, even had a grown daughter, Lena still living at home.
|Mom’s aunt Lena Berghuis, about 1920 graduation pic…|
|Jenny, grandpa, Lakey and Grandma Wanningen, early 1900’s…|
|Mom, grandpa and grandma Wanningen and Floyd, mid-1930’s…|
As the twins were growing, many weekends were spent with the Berghuis clan too. Sioux Center was a small town, and the grandparents lived only a few blocks from each other. There were 3 Berghuis uncles and 3 aunts with whom they were very close. Mom and Floyd were actually named after their uncle Floyd and aunt Florence Berghuis, also twins. One aunt was married and had kids about the same age as the twins. They spent a lot of time on the farm with their aunt Alida DeZeeuw and her family.
|Mom’s aunt Alida Berghuis DeZeeuw, 1920’s…|
It was Grandma Berghuis who would often “do stuff” with the twins. If they were staying there for the weekend, after church and a big Sunday dinner (noon meal), almost everyone took a nap in the afternoon. Not much fun when you’re a little kid, but by this time both sets of grandparents were nearing 70. All four grandparents were deeply religious, even to the point that Grandma Berghuis would peel her potatoes on Saturday for Sunday dinner, thus eliminating some of the work from a Sunday. “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days thou shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the 7th day is holy and thou shalt not do any work.” (close enough) I guess though this did not mean a little fun stuff now and then. Grandma Berghuis did not nap on Sunday afternoon when the twins were there.
|Mom’s grandma Berghuis, early 1920’s…|
They often would make a batch of fudge or penuche (Dutch brown sugar fudge). These candies, having only about 5 ingredients each were boiled, then had to cool before beating it until it was thick enough to pour on a buttered plate and set up solid.
|Penuche. Dutch brown sugar fudge. Super sweet…|
A favorite story that my mom frequently told was the time they had a batch of fudge cooling in the back haukee (Dutch for small enclosed porch). Someone knocked on the door for a visit, and rather admit to their indiscretion (minor sin) and bring the fudge out, opted to “let the cooling fudge set,” never mentioned it, and by the company finally left, the fudge was solid. No big deal, they had a good laugh and ate it out of the pan. (sorry God)…
|I still use great grandma’s Berghuis simple recipe…|