Catholic-ville…

Big changes were coming for this little family of three in the year of 1974. Celebrating anniversary # 5. Shannon was 3-1/2 and acquiring all the necessary skills (cooking-cleaning) for me to warm up to the idea of adding to our brood. Me, now a master chef could make: 1. Tuna salad 2. Tuna casserole 3. Coffee.


Shannon 4. Look at her hair length…

John had been hired by a company in eastern Iowa, about 350 miles away. We had never lived this far from the rest of the family, but it was time. My Mom was pretty possessive. She now had 4 grandchildren, 3 boys from Mona, but Shannon was the youngest and only granddaughter.


Mom sorta doted/smothered her and it was time to put a little distance between them. Eastern Iowa appeared like northwest Iowa, small towns, each a few miles from the next one. But it was very different from where we had grown up and what we were used to.

One of the 5-whack-brothers who owned the company which now employed John, had fudged on several facts when wooing us to take the job and move. Yes, there was a beautiful new school, but he assured us it was a public school. It was Catholic. The whole area around Dyersville was as Catholic as northwest Iowa was Dutch. We were living in a very small “village” just a few miles north. It consisted of one-small-grade-school-Catholic, one-not-so small-church-Catholic. Everyone was friendly and we met some wonderful people. We were kind of an oddity in their little world, and folks around there were curious about us. Our neighbors decided to hold a “Welcome to New Vienna” party for us. Taking place at “the church.” The church saw this as an easy fundraiser to make some bucks and coined it, “What are you willing to shell out to meet and greet 3 live Protestants?”


John liked his job. We had great friendly neighbors, but were having a big problem with the craziest of the 5-brother-bosses at work. First, he bought us each a new set of gold clubs. Neither of us golfed. Then he stopped by the house a couple times during the day when John was still at work. When I mentioned to hubby this was the second time, his-all-alarm-fire-bell-tripped. That dirty-low-down-sucker was hitting on his little woman. EEUUWWW. Whack-job was old, (maybe late 30’s, but I was 23). John barged into his office, threatened to remove his heart, balls and everything in between. Funny, it never happened again. I can’t believe John didn’t get fired. We assumed no one had ever talked this way or threatened one of the bosses before. They were revered in town. The biggest employer by far, but 4 of the 5 were pond scum. Found out later this crazy dude had 2 “alienation of affections” lawsuits against him. I was so naive. Did not have a clue. I do remember I was not flattered, just grossed out.


Me, Josh, John and Shannon, 1976…


Since Protestant churches were few and far between, we were trying out a big, beautiful Presbyterian in Dubuque, about 25 miles away. Definitely not the right choice. As we were walking in, someone handed John a sealed envelope. Told him to keep it and respond at the appropriate time. About half way through the service, one of the ministers started reading a list of names. Boys and girls, all about 12-14 years old lined up next to him. Then preacher man asked anyone holding an envelope to come up front. Oh boy. Reluctantly John shuffled up with several others. A quicky-5-minute-sermon reminding folks what you actually vow to do when a baby is baptized. That with the help of God, you will nurture and teach these children to become disciples for Christ. All adults were individually asked to open their envelope and read the name. That kid then marched right up and stood next to them. Preacher asked John to explain what he had “personally” done in the last decade for this child to become a better Christian? Though John was a tad embarrassed for being put on the spot, the dozen-egg-splatter on the preacher’s face for not knowing that John was a first (and last) time attender was worth the price of collection.

We were expecting our second baby. Shannon, now 4 was responding well to her responsibilities and had just finished wallpapering the nursery. Things were going good. This was our first Thanksgiving away from family and we were excited to attempt stuffing and roasting a turkey. Shannon had read the directions, and I helped her load the bird in the oven (just kidding, she was really strong). We were amazed at how pretty it looked in the oven. Golden brown and I was ready to accept the compliments on my culinary skills. Not. Took it out, ready to carve, but the sucker was hours away from being done on the inside. I could see Shannon still needed to brush up on her math skills.


Newborn Joshua, 1975…


Joshua, our first amazing son would arrive on his due date. Besides miserable heartburn and some very strange cravings, (lemon meringue pie and sauerkraut, which I ate straight from the can, cold) this pregnancy and labor were uneventful. Weighing in at 7-1/2 pounds, he had rather large feet and a beautiful head of hair. Shannon tried unsuccessfully to move into the mothering spot, but lost that position when she walked into the house after making mud pies, spotted her newborn baby brother fussing on the couch, and promptly stuck a filthy finger in his mouth. He did stop fussing, I’ll giver her that.



We ended up living in eastern Iowa about 4 years. Wasn’t really sorry to leave, though we had established some lasting friendships. We absolutely loved our next move to Spencer Iowa. Looking forward with trepidation at being a mere 60 miles from my folks again. John was only 2 when his sister Elly had gotten married. Living near them and their large family was a wonderful experience. Our kids thought they gained another set of grandparents.



We grew very close to Elly and Dewey, bowling with them on a mixed league, antiquing and road trips, plus sharing many suppers and some holidays together. Mom viewed this relationship about the same as the “alienation of affections” lawsuits in eastern Iowa. Someone, (Elly) was trying to steal the love and affection that belonged to her and her alone from me and the kids. Not a good time for her. No, not much had changed. A few years later it was time to move on, nomads that we appeared to be…

 

 

 

 

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