By Panzi Blackwell
Sneaking In A Taste Of Spring
We just couldn’t resist it! One nice day last week, we, the out-numbered human inhabitants of the Homestead (namely, Bill and Panzi), made some baloney (the little kind) sandwiches, took a couple of handfuls of ‘tater chips, a handful of chocolate chip cookies, a container of coffee and a soda, grabbed Josie, the puppy, and her blanket, and had a picnic on the way to Pete and Pam LeDuc’s barn to get hay.
The sun was shining, and we saw a large male turkey along the countryside and a couple of wild rabbits on the road. It has turned cold, rained and snowed again since, but we treasure those few early stolen moments from spring, 2011.
Meanwhile, Bertha and Pricey, the Great Pyrnese dogs, are enjoying sleeping out on the ice, snow and wet ground, ignoring their shelters.
From the Homestead
Over the years, we have, from time to time, received notes and comments from our readers. Usually, they are thank you notes or personal comments, not really intended to be shared with others.
However, the Homestead mailbox held an interesting and rather poignant letter from a recently bereaved son, asking that his mother’s story be shared with others.
I knew this lady and enough of her story that I was tempted to share a part of it when I heard of her death. However, I didn’t know her family and did not want to share this very personal history without their permission.
Many of you knew Greta LaMar, but probably very few knew of her childhood experiences with her family and their struggle and break for freedom, years of living in displacement camps and her children’s gratitude and thankfulness to be American citizens.
Following are excerpts from Michael LaMar Sr.: My mother, Greta Zegrete LaMar passed away on January 30, 2011, she was 83 years old…give or take a year.
You see, mother was born in a little village of Tauraue, Lithuania. There were no hospitals or modern type medical clinics…and no births, nor baptisim’s were recorded in the church.
During and after World War II, the family were forced to leave their home and country, to flee from the fighting that was still going on after the war, due to the U.S.S.R. Russia was wanting to claim the Baltic countries.
My grandfather and grandmother and their three children, Herta, Greta, and Herb, loaded a cart pulled by oxen or horses, and loaded with all they could carry, to head south to Poland in a mass exodus from turmoil, with other relatives and friends.
They came to the only stone bridge leading into Lithuiana… which was guarded by a soldier. They were stopped and told to get off the road for the Russian approaching convoy.
My grandmother had a piece of salted, smoked, pork that she was carrying to feed the family during their journey. She took it from under her coat where it was hidden and offered it to the soldier to let them pass.
The soldier had only C-rations and what he could scavange from the land to eat, so he took it and told them to go. The people and carts behind grandmother’s carts and family were turned back. They never made it out of Lithuiana, were never allowed to leave. They lived under Russia ’s rule for years.
(The day Greta’s family was allowed to cross the bridge) “They became what is known as “D.P.’s” or displaced persons. They went to Polund to the D.P. Camps. They often talked of the hardships they endured living there, and after, when they were moved to Germany camps. Eventually, from Germany, Greta’s family was relocated to the United States.
Mother married, divorced, remarried and was widowed. She later married Robert LaMar in 1957, the year I was born. We moved from East St. Louis to a nice little town of Brownstown, where we bought a 40 acre farm.
Mother and father divorced in 1976, but mother stayed on the farm until her death. She was a Brownstown resident for 39 years, worked at Crane Packing for many years until she retired. She had many friends at the VFW in Vandalia and at the Eagles Club. She loved life.
Mother’s funeral was uneventful, not many came. Maybe it was due to the ice and snow storm hitting our area, or maybe it was just that she was 83 years old.
She is gone and will soon be forgotten, but I wanted to tell a story about a woman that made a journey, took a chance …and I am an American because of that. God bless her and keep her, I am thankful everyday when I wake up and see the sun rise in this great Country,” Yours Truly, Michael L. LaMar Sr.
Thank you, Michael, for sharing your mother’s story with our readers. We so often don’t have the opportunity to get to know our neighbors and associates, or even our friends as we should or would like to. I believe everyone has a story to share.
You are thankful to have had a mother that came to a country where you would be born free. I believe, Michael, that she would be proud and thankful to have a son who honored and revered her memory and her life, as you do.
The Homestead Mailbox…
….is bright pink on the north side of U.S. Route 40, just across form our “Cora’s Corner.” The sign was torn down by wind and a new one has not yet been made. It is identifiable by the little log cabin and ceramic deer, horse and other “critters.” The pink box is for the U.S. Postal Service.
The black metal box directly under the pink one is for the news items. Please use it for the non-posted items.
There are also news boxes at the Good Old Days Restaurant and at Victory Lane for your convenience. Thanks for your contributions.
Coming Up in Our
•Circuit Breaker representative will be at the Golden Years Club building on April 12 at 10 a.m.
Friends Of The Brownstown Branch Library Are Excited…
… about the coming year. Friends of the Brownstown Branch Library met for the first time this year to discuss and plan the fundraisers for the upcoming year. The group discussed spring events, such as a street fair, book sales, a historic house walk and the annual purse sale. A lively discussion was held on a few other first-time fundraisers.
Free Library Cards Offered
The Friends are excited to announce that funds are available for residents in Sefton and Otego 2 Townships who wish to be a part of the growing library.
Free library cards will be issued in March and April to the residents of those two townships. All a person will have to do is to come into the library on Mondays, 1-5 p.m., or Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., fill out a card with residency information and receive a free library card.
Copies of the DVD “Those Were The Days II” are available for $15 each. This event was held at the Golden Years Club Building July 2010. DVD’s may be purchased from the library at DeerPark. The previous presentation of “T.W.T.D.I “is also available.
The Friends will meet again on Tuesday, March 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the library. Everyone is welcome to attend and join the volunteer group.
Catching Up With The
Puleos’ and Debbie
Ken and Wanda Puleo and Debbie McDonald traveled to Dix on Tuesday to visit, Wanda’s mother, Ethel Pittman. Wanda had received a picture album the week before from a cousin in Ohio that had originally been given to the sister of their great-grandmother in 1891.
Several of the pictures had been taken out, but those that were still in it were of Ethel’s parents, grandparents and other relatives.
Also interesting was a picture of William Jennings Bryan, taken in Salem when he was fairly young, just as though he was in the family. There were some tintypes in it too. Wanda left the album with her mother so that other members of her family could see it.
Debbie Had a Most
Debbie had a big day Friday, enjoying lunch in Effingham and doing some birthday shopping. She enjoyed birthday greetings from Arizona, California, Indiana, Nebraska, Colorado and Alaska, and from her siblings and grandmother.
She also enjoyed some nice gifts. She enjoyed sharing birthday cake and ice cream with her sisters, Connie, and Kathy and family, and brother, Mike.
From Our Readers in Ohio, German Valley and Loogootee
Recently received at our Homestead e-mail address was a message from Sharon Black Lawler of Ohio, one of the late Jenny Black’s children.
She sent a poem written by her brother, Dale Black of German Valley, about the Chickenfoot tornado that had been described to him over the telephone by their sister, Shirley Mattes.
Mattes said she just drove around Chickenfoot and then described the destruction when she called Dale. The sisters were both amazed and delighted when they received the poem. It is not only entertaining, but it also documents some local weather history.
Good News from
Brownstown’s DarnFar Ranch Humans, Tammie and Robert Rogers
Tammie sent a letter to the Homestead mailbox with information regarding P.A.C.K. a reading program for children. (Pups Assisting Children With Kindness)
The reading P.A.C.K. is a group of well-trained therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers whose goal is to improve children’s interest and enjoyment of reading.
The program encourages children to read to a dog that will not judge or criticize the child’s performance. P.A.C.K. therapy dog handlers donate their time to help others in local schools and libraries.
The unconditional acceptances and novelty that a dog offers a child can result in improved reading scores and enhances a child’s general attitude about reading.
It also provides therapy dog handlers the opportunity to volunteer in their community towards a heartwarming cause. Children 8 years old and up may participate.
The program will be offered at Evans Public Library in Vandalia.
Orientation is next Tuesday at 6 p.m., and kickoff is April 5 at 5:30 p.m. Thereafter, meetings are on the first and third Tuesday of each month, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Reading sessions with the dogs will be scheduled at 5:30, 5:50, 6:10 and 6:30 p.m.
Available dogs and handlers are limited. Registration is required.
Children should take their own books to read. Reading sessions are 20 minutes long.
Contact Jessica Blain or Linda Kelly at the Evans Public Library to participate. 283-2824.
Golden Years Club Meets
Fourteen members of the Town & Country Golden Years Club gathered for their potluck/meeting on Tuesday, March 8, at their club building in Brownstown.
The club president, Charles Reece, gave the welcome. There were no birthdays or anniversaries recognized. Jim Dann, pastor of Liberty Christian Church, asked the blessing for the meal.
It was noted that attendance was down due to the funeral of Gene Watson, a lifetime resident, long-time businessman, community worker, and friend and neighbor to many.
It was also noted that the club treasurer, Donnie Smail, was in attendance after a lengthy absence due to surgery. Smail left early to participate in the military rites for Watson’s service.
Following the meal, Reece called the meeting to order and Smail gave the financial report.
•A representative for the Circuit Breaker Program will be present at the Golden Years Building on April 12, at 10 a.m.
•Members were reminded to complete their application forms and pay their dues.
The next potluck club meeting will be Tuesday, March 22.
Sefton Unit HCE Meet
Seventeen members of the Sefton Unit Home and Community Education and two guests met Thursday, March 10, at the Golden Years building in Brownstown.
The decorations were in the St. Patrick’s Day theme, with many of the members wearing the traditional Irish green. The club president, Flo Allen, called the meeting to order and led the pledge to the flag.
Club Secretary Joyce Fisher called roll with the question, “The best thing about spring,” with flowers seeming to be the most popular answer. Fisher read the minutes of the previous meeting which were approved. Shirley Klitzing, treasurer, gave the financial report, which stood approved.
Cards were signed by all present for members Leona McConaughay, Ilene Sidwell and Connie Sidwell. A thank you card was signed for Mike Wirz in appreciation for his mother’s collection of pennies he donated for the club’s “Pennies For Friendship” project to help others. His mother, Marie Wirz, was a long-time member of Sefton HCE.
Shirley Mattes presented the major lesson, “Food Trends: Organic Foods.”
Phyllis Pryor presented the special lesson, “Aims of Homemaker,” a set of goals of which is included in the pages of the HCE handbook every year. Pryor said that when she received her first copy on becoming a member, she framed the attractive page and it still hangs in her kitchen.
She shared these “rules” were written in 1918 by Miss Juliet Lita Bane, who at that time was the Illinois State Extension leader. Pryor went over the categories that the monthly lessons cover and which, if followed, can contribute to a well-rounded family and home life, and contribute to a healthier, safer, community.
Panzi Blackwell gave the February major lesson, “Women’s Heart Health,” stressing the importance of adequate exercise, rest and proper diet.
Door prizes were won by Joyce Fisher, Marge Weiss, Phyllis Pryor, Shirley Mattes, Shirley Klitzing, Elizabeth Kasten, Deloris Dukeman, Sally Behrends and Debbie Swain.
Also present were: Flo Allen, Panzi Blackwell, LaVonne Kramer, Carol Oldham, Alice Scott, Sharon Wilhelm, Betty Williams and Marilyn Yakel, and guests Virginia Wilbur and Connie Bingaman.
Two desserts of butterscotch and pasticcio were served, along with nuts, candies, iced tea and coffee. Sally Behrends assisted Shirley Klitzing and Panzi Blackwell, who were co-hostesses.
UMW Hold Seminar
The Embarras River District United Methodist Women held a personal growth seminar hosted by the Watson United Methodist Women at their church on March 7, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., with approximately 60 women present.
The theme was “Joy of Mission-From Our Door to the World.” Louella Christensen and Marilyn Yakel from the local Brownstown UMW attended. The Embarras River District president, Sharon Niksch of Casey, opened the meeting.
The morning session was led by Illinois Great Rivers Conference UMW E & I Mission Coordinator Paukline Stoltz of Mt. Carmel.
She was assisted by Carol Kessler of Shelbyville, district missions coordinator of education and interpretation. This included worship, Bible study and Expanding Concepts of Mission.
The afternoon session included a presentation by IGRC UMW secretary, Kaye Kimpling of Effingham, on her mission trips to Nicaragua.
She provided material for 20 fleece quilts the women cut and tied which she will take back on her next trip there.
As the congregation of the United Methodist Church met for Sunday morning worship, pianist Bette Stolte opened with an Irish greeting and shared the words, “He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs” to “Danny Boy.” Bradley Schwarms lighted the altar candles.
Pastor Bigley greeted the congregation, reviewed the announcements, recognized the birthdays and anniversaries, and led the opening prayer. He lifted up those who are ill or grieving and the victims of the earthquake.
Carol Severns served as liturgist. Hubert Williams and Bradley Schwarms presented the tithes and offerings. Jenna Townsend led the children’s Sunday school fellowship and worship held prior to their classes. Flo Allen and Louella Christensen led the adult classes.
March 20-Wolf Creek Cluster Lenten Services will be held at Brownstown UMC, with the Rev. John Heicher bringing the message. Host churches will provide finger foods, desserts, and drinks.
Offerings will go to the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House and to the Cunningham Children’s Home. The March 27 meeting will be held at the Haley Chapel United Methodist Church.
First Christian Church
The congregation of the First Christian Church were led in songs of praise by Susan and Matthew Smith, accompanied by pianist-Robin Smith; drums-Mitchell Smith; flute-Kaitlyn Enlow; and guitars-James Schaible, Walt Kinney and Chuck Enlow. Ron Hunter contributed special music.
John Robinson delivered the message. Terry Smith led the Communion meditation. John Robinson led the gifts and offerings devotion.
Also serving: Sunday school nursery-Liz Oberlink; toddler worship-Barb Tackett and Ashton Smith; Quest-4-Christ-Michael Watson and team; and Communion to shut-ins-Brent Keyes and Don Willms.
•The Bankster Family in concert at Liberty Church–Sunday at 6 p.m.
•Community Easter Egg Hunt will be on Saturday, April 23, from 2-4 p.m. at the Brownstown Community Park. Kids ages 2-12 are welcome to attend. There is a need for monetary donations to cover the cost. Please give to Jamie Smith by March 20.
Liberty Christian Church
The congregation of Liberty Christian Church was greeted by Kara Barker and led in songs of praise by Paula Brunk, Katie Carson and Teresa Mayes.
Accompanists were: guitar-Dick Childress; drums-Eddie Carson; piano-Connie Largent; keyboard-Tammy Carson; sound system-Tom Mayes; and Powerpoint-Chloe Carson. Jim Dann shared the praises and prayer requests and led in prayer.
Special music was contributed by Annie Chandler, followed by the message, delivered by Jim Dann. Scripture from Luke 7:11-17 and John 11:1-44. Communion devotion was led by Kyle Anderson. The offering devotion was led by Aaron Miller.
Also serving: at the table: John Willms, Kyle Anderson; serving the congregation: Craig Daughtery, John Schaub, Ken Lamb, Aaron Miller, Brad Smith, Charles Moore; assistants: Roger Smith, Mark Schaub; ushers: Mark Schaub, John Schaub; nursery-Jacy Schaub, Kenley Durbin; Communion prep-Deb Parkison; Communion rounds-Bill Robison, Charlie Moore; welcome center-Jack and Dorothy Durbin; junior church-Sherri Beckel, Paitlyn Miller; pre-K worship-Allison Brunk, Kylee Crown; youth refreshments-Buffy Chandler; and van driver-Vernon Brazle.
•Garage sale has been cancelled.
•Sunday night, March 27-Dominion trip report.