In May 2019, Connie TeSelle Robinson, granddaughter of Herman and Jennie TeSelle, wrote down the following recollections about her grandparents to share with the family:
Memories of Herman and Jennie TeSelle (“Grandpa and Grandma”)
By Connie TeSelle Robinson – May 2019
Grandma [Jennie Vandewege] was born in Panama, Nebraska, on 26 May 1896. Grandpa [Herman John TeSelle] was born in Firth, Nebraska, on 2 August 1888. When I was visiting Nebraska, Delmar Vandewege [Jennie’s nephew] took us to the place where she was born; however, it’s just a field now. After they were married, they moved to the homestead farm of Harmen Jan te Selle. I don’t know why Grandpa got the farm, with all the other brothers. Perhaps they were already married and had farms of their own. [Note: See Harmen Jan te Selle – Last Will and Testament for additional information.]
We had lots of fun on the farm. About every summer we would go visit. Grandma told us many things that happened over the years.
She said that the house had three bedrooms upstairs, and the three brothers drew straws as to who would get the bedrooms. My dad, Glenn, got the biggest room. We would always stay in that room when we visited. I remember it being so hot. I still remember the doves calling. When I hear a dove today, it reminds me so much of the farm.
Another thing was when we would get bored, Grandma would tell us to take an umbrella and go jump out of the hay mow. It was a lot of fun.
I remember one time when Lonnie and I got locked in the corn shed. We called and called and finally, Grandpa heard us and let us out.
Another time we were in the barn and we picked something up. We went to Grandma and told her to hold her hands out. We put some newborn mice in her hands.
I would always go gathering the eggs with her. The chickens would always peck at my hands. Scared me to death.
After the war, my dad got a job with the railroad company. My mom and I also worked in Lincoln. I’m not sure what she did, but I think it was a dress manufacturing shop where she sewed. But Grandma and Grandpa would take care of me during the week.
Then my dad and mom decided to buy a farm. There was no house on the farm so they bought one and had it moved to the farm. This was hard on my mother because she was from Salt Lake City, and never had this kind of life. There were mice in the house and she had to catch them. There was no running water so she had to go to the well and pump the water. Eventually, my dad fixed it so that they had running water and a bathroom.
Back to Grandma and Grandpa. Some of the other things that I remember is that Larry liked to shoot his BB gun. She told him he could aim at the sparrows but not the robins. One time he hit one and killed it. He felt so bad.
Roger always remembers one incident that Floyd never liked slopping the hogs. Grandpa told him to go take care of the hogs. When he got there, one of the hogs started chasing him. Floyd took a stick and hit the hog on its nose. The hog died. Floyd went to tell Grandpa, but instead of getting upset with him, Grandpa said “sometimes they just do that.”
Grandpa was a very mild man. He loved sitting in his rocking chair with his grandkids on his lap. He got very ill from a stroke. Grandma worked with him to get his voice back, but he was never the same.
I remember the special time that Grandma and I would sit on the porch in the swing and she would rub my back. It felt so good because her hands were rough from the hard work. I remember helping her in the garden to pick the peas and tomatoes. I also remember having to use the outhouse because there was no indoor toilet. They eventually got running water and an inside toilet.
Grandpa and Grandma moved to Firth in 1963. I guess they decided that they couldn’t run the farm anymore, so Grandpa built them a house. The property belonged to Grandma’s mother and father, Martin and Jozina Vandewege. They were both gone, so I don’t know if the property was left to Grandma. Grandpa took the boards from the upstairs of the farmhouse and built some of the house. He also took the wood from the barn. They took the kitchen cabinets and sinks and stove to put in the new house. They rented out the 70 acres they owned, and eventually, someone moved into the farmhouse and fixed it up. It was eventually sold, demolished, and a new house put on the property now.
Friday night was the night everybody went to town. They would sit on benches and visit. They would have a movie at the park. Grandpa always took us kids. This was an outdoor movie, and the mosquitoes would always really bite him. But he didn’t complain. He continued to sit there with us on wooden log planks and watch the movie. He was such a gentle man.
Grandma and Grandpa would do their shopping on Friday night as well. I believe they traded their eggs for groceries.
When I got older and Rob was in Vietnam, I went to visit Grandma. Grandpa had already passed away. Every night Aunt Pearl would come across the alley and we would have root beer floats with ice cream and diet root beer. This was a joke that we had among us. It was so nice to visit with Pearl.
I also remember that when we would visit the house in the town, everybody would come over for popcorn and they would dump it in the middle of the table and sit around and eat it in and visit and laugh. Grandma had several ladies that were in a pinochle club. I’m not sure how often they would meet, but they would have coffee, cookies, and play pinochle.
Another time coming home from town, we were heading back to the farm and a huge owl was in the road. It was dark and he flew next to the car and scared me so much.
Grandma and Grandpa always had people over. They would sit around the pot-bellied stove and talk for hours. Later after I had got older, I went back and visited the farm. A lady was living there. She invited my mom, Pearl, and myself in for a visit. It is so strange how when you are smaller, everything looks large. After we went in, the house actually was very small.