The following is written by my Great Grandmother Irene Redfearn. You can find all the posts I will make about her here. She was an amazing woman and the below is what she wrote at the request of her family. I will post the entire letter in intervals as it is quite long. When I refer to Grandma, it is my Grandma Collum, one of Irene's children and it is usually information she filled in for me. Enjoy!
I met my husband in Gladbrook one afternoon, he was with one of his friends and I met him in Lincoln different times when I was at John’s. We met at Lincoln, IA and I went with him off and on for two years. And I got married March 27, 1923. I had met his parents before when I was at brother John’s.
Harry Redfern was in the service in Mexico and Texas for two years. (note from Grandma, Irene bought Harry out of the army so he wouldn’t get hurt before he joined the war.) Then we worked for farmers as hired hands. Then we went through 1929 depression days. We worked for people just so we had a house to live in.
The twins were born on a farm of 80 acres we rented. So Harry couldn’t make ends meet so we farmed 5 years on the 80 acres. Harry wanted to move to Oskaloosa, IA and work with Uncle Ed down in the coal mines. The first week he worked in the coal mines, the brothers were angry at someone because his cows got out and ate some of the neighbor’s garden. So instead of the worker using the wooden bar to tap the dynamite into the hole he picked up the metal one and caused a spark and caused a blast.
It hit Harry, Uncle Ed and the boss, Charlie. The boss had burns on his face and body and both eyes cut open. They looked like red strawberries, he is totally blind. Harry’s one eye has a big piece of sulfa coal in it; he is blind in that eye. His face was burned and his heavy sweat shirt had been afire across his back.
I stayed in the Oskaloosa hospital. 11 days and nights never took my shoes off, didn’t know how much fire they had swallowed. Their faces were swelled and full of liquid from the burns and started to peel off. That burnt flesh smelled so bad we had to put our sandwiches and coffee out on the fire escape so it wouldn’t taste like burned meat. Uncle Ed wasn’t burned that bad, he went home the next day.
So we came home and worked for farmers again, but all the wages we got then was $18.00 a month, a dozen eggs a week, a gallon can of milk a day, and every fall we would get half a hog. I had a big garden so we canned every fruit and vegetable I could get. Even made my own jelly and baked my bread and churned the butter and raised chickens enough for us to eat. (Note from Grandma: Harry would find rabbit holes during the winter and, because he couldn’t afford shells, so he would hit them over the head with a club to kill them. Then they would leave the rabbits in a tub on the porch so they’d freeze and they’d have hot rabbit soup all winter.)
When I first got married, Harry’s dad went to a sale and bought a metal bed with mattress, a dresser and rug, 4 chairs and tables, and a real small laundry stove. It had a little reservoir for water and a small oven. I could bake two loves of bread at a time. He bought a granite water pail, a dipper, a set of chipped blue bird dishes, a broiler wash tub and a wash board so I had to wash Harry’s overalls on a wash board till we moved onto the 80 acres.
Then his folks lived at the next farm to us so I went to his mom’s with the wash.
She had a two tub washer run by a gasoline engine out in the wood shed.