Hickory Nut Cake and Snapdragons: Memories of Mrs. Busch

My mom & Mrs. Busch, abt 1964
My mom and Mrs. Busch, about 1964. (Image source: Drake family photo, privately held.)

I was named for two very special women in my mom’s life. One of them was Mrs. Eva Busch, who was like a grandmother to my mom when she was young. She lived right around the corner when my mom was growing up, and would often watch her while her parents were at work. Mrs. Busch had been good friends with my mom’s Grandma Kaiser, and although she sometimes took care of other children in the neighborhood, she had a special bond with my mom. My mom would spend time at her house after school and during the summer when her parents were at work. They spent many of their days baking pies, cookies, or bread. One of her specialties was Hickory Nut Cake. In the fall, they would gather nuts from the Hickory trees in their yards, and they would spend many hours cracking them and separating the nuts from the shells. After all that hard work, the cake was quite a treat! On warm days, my mom enjoyed reading a book underneath the large white bridal wreath bush in front of her house. Mrs. Busch’s garden also always had colorful snapdragons, and she would show my mom how to pinch the flowers to make the “dragons” snap open their “mouths.” On cold or rainy days, Mrs. Busch taught my mom how to play solitaire or other card games. Mrs. Busch passed away when my mom was in college. Although my mom always called her Mrs. Busch, she thought her first name, Eva, was a pretty name, and when I was born, she paired it with my aunt’s middle name, Anne, to make my first name. Mrs. Busch and my aunt were very kind, patient, and practical women, and were talented bakers. I’m hoping to live up to my name!

Each clover is lucky…

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George Weil on his front porch, about 1980.

When I was still pretty young, I learned that four-leaf clovers were lucky. As a youngster, I would spend hours crawling through the lush clovers that grew in our backyard to try to find one. (I never did!) One day after yet another fruitless search, my dad told me about the four-leaf clovers that he used to get in the mail from his grandfather, George Weil (1889-1981). He told me this story: Continue reading “Each clover is lucky…”

Family History at the Library

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My love of reading started young, and was probably influenced by the many teachers in my family, and my aunt who was a librarian.

I have always been a ferocious reader, and always interested in the past. My interest in literature, history, public service, and genealogy has led to a career as a librarian. Last year I completed my MSLIS, but my family’s connection to libraries does not start there! Continue reading “Family History at the Library”

In memoriam: George F. Astling (1946 – 2018)

George F. Astling, 72

 
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George with his cow at a 4-H show in 1958.

George Frank Astling was born in 1946 in Sycamore, DeKalb County, Illinois, and passed away 19 November 2018 in Sycamore after battling Parkinson’s disease. He was the son of Donald and Vera (Angel) Astling. George grew up on the family farm, and as a youth, was an active FFA member. He often showed cattle at the county and state fairs. He graduated from Sycamore High School in 1964. After high school, he attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale studying Horticulture, and graduated in 1969. Continue reading “In memoriam: George F. Astling (1946 – 2018)”

A Kaiser at the War’s End: 100 years ago

Remembering the end of WWI, 100 years ago today

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Glenn with a group of fellow soldiers near Alsace, France, in about June 1918. Glenn is in the back row, third from the left. The other soldiers are unidentified, but are likely members of the A.E.F. 32nd Div. 127th Inf. (Image source: Kaiser family photos)

One hundred years ago today, the Armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, which ceased the hostilities on the Western Front, and that ended World War One. When the war ended, my great-grandfather Glenn Kaiser had been serving in the Army for 14 months, and had been on the front lines with the U.S. Army 32nd Division for many of the major military campaigns of the war. He was one of about 1,000 men from DeKalb County, Illinois to enlist in the service, and was one of the 4.7 million American soldiers to serve during the war. He was sent to the European front in February of 1918. This photo (right) was taken with some of his (unidentified) fellow soldiers near Haute Alsace just after they arrived in France. Glenn sent it to his mother along with this letter in June 1918. He had participated in battles in the Aisne-Marne Campaign, the Oise-Aisne Campaign, and finally the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. Like many of the soldiers on the Western Front, my great-grandfather could tell that the war was drawing to a close, but was very anxious to see it finally end. Glenn and his unit were engaged in battle until the last hours before the Armistice took effect. He and his unit had indeed been up for two nights getting into battle positions and marching through tough roads. When the guns finally fell silent at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, I’m sure that the men were relieved that the war was over, and also in that moment, relieved that they could get some sleep. He wrote to his mother on Nov. 12, the day after the Armistice took effect, to describe his relief and his commitment to making the peace last.

Below is an excerpt from the letter that Glenn sent his mother the day after the Armistice was signed. See the original letter and read the entire text here.  Continue reading “A Kaiser at the War’s End: 100 years ago”