Tricounty News

When Mama drove the car, Part II



By Elizabeth Cooper Mike

Part I ended with Mama getting ready to drive the car. A continuation of the author's "mostly fictional" account.

Sure enough, Mama came in the house and said, "We're going to St. Paul." Mama didn't even ask for Daddy when she called Eikers on the phone. She just said, "Tell Bailey I'm driving to St. Paul myself and I'm leaving now." And she hung up quick.

Mama had never driven by herself, but I wasn't scared to have my Mama drive. Daddy had shown her some things on the car and Papa had taken her out driving once or twice. I knew if she said she could do something, she could do it.

Mama's driving was jerky getting out of the yard and on our way down the road. Jack and I sat in the back seat. Peggy was propped up between pillows in the front seat by Mama. The car curtains with the little isinglass windows were packed up in the back so the wind blew in our faces as we drove along. I enjoyed looking at the trees and cows and houses going past so fast, We didn't see even one car until we got out on the road going to St. Cloud.

When we got to St. Cloud, Mama stopped in front of Aunt Mildred's house. Two ladies came down the steps all dressed up with their hats and gloves on. It was Aunt Mildred and Gramma Coopie. Mama had her hat and gloves on too.

Aunt Mildred sat in the back seat with Jack and me. As Gramma Coopie climbed into the front seat, I heard her say, "Lyda, is this something you should be doing?"

Mama said, "I'm so mad at Bailey, I could spit! Then she said, "I can drive. I just can't back up."

Sometimes people would run out to the road and watch us go past. I stood up on the seat and looked out of the little window in the back of the car and watched the people staring after us. I guess they were surprised to see a woman driving a car.

We only had one flat tire and Mama just got out the tire-patching kit and had it fixed in no time while we ate our lunch. Us kids had jelly sandwiches and shared warm milk in a blue enamel cup. The grownups ate cheese sandwiches and drank coffee from a black thermos.

We reached Robbinsdale just outside of Minneapolis where cars were honking and noisy and Mama said, "We made it this far in only four hours." I think that was when Mama lost her courage 'cause she walked to a telephone and called up Papa who worked for the railroad and he came out riding on the train to where we were parked along the road.

Mama squeezed into the back seat with us and Papa drove us the rest of the way to where he and Nana lived in their big gray stone house on Payne Avenue.

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This is just the beginning of another "once-in-a-lifetime-year," so keep a close watch on each "History Matters" columns published here every two weeks. And you won't want to miss all the 2011 special events, new or renewed friendships through membership. Meetings for 2011 begin

Feb. 22, details to be announced soon, about another fantastic "first time in Kimball" program. This is followed by Kimball's annual community and business Expo in March. April Historical Society meeting is a "never seen before," June as well, this is just a tidbit of the exciting year we're entering.

Thank you for your ongoing support. It's membership month, won't you renew yours if you haven't? Or, join us for the first time, and just doing that makes you the most important possession of Kimball's Historical Society. If you happen to have some history or photos about you or other Kimball area happenings, we would treasure it also. You don't need to be a member to enjoy our events, meetings and friendship. Anyone can help us continue to tell and preserve the rich Kimball area story. Our mission is to foster among people an awareness of Kimball Area and Minnesota history, so that people may draw strength and perspective from the past, and find purpose for the future by bringing history to life. Your continued commitment to our mission is priceless and appreciated.

For more information, tax exempt donations, a story for this column or any of the above, we invite you to contact the Kimball Area Historical Society, P.O. Box 100, Kimball MN 55353, phone (320) 398-5743, 398-5250, or e-mail < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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2011: this is the year to honor

Kimball's 1886 founding fathers

Elizabeth Cooper Mike was born on a farm near Kimball Prairie, Minn. in the early part of the 20th century. Elizabeth grew up during a time when children ran barefoot all summer, worked hard at farm chores, and had few toys. It was a time of outhouses and kerosene lamps. A time of sweet memories and carefree days of childhood. These are the very things she writes about in her book entitled, "The Girl From Stickney Hill, Kimball Prairie, Minnesota." In this book, most of the stories are fictional with some non-fiction inserted. She is the oldest of

10 children.

Before World War II, Elizabeth dropped out of the University of Minnesota to marry and move to Ypsilanti, Mich., where her husband Peter worked in the Willow Run Bomber Plant. While raising four children, Elizabeth worked in a factory. She also worked as a reporter for a daily newspaper and for New York-based Fairchild Publications, a daily trade publication. Elizabeth had her own byline and specialized in feature and human interest stories.

Elizabeth has always been interested in education and in writing. At the age of 48, she returned to school to Eastern Michigan University to earn her B.S. and M.S. in teaching. Since retiring from elementary teaching in 1988, she has been writing a collection of short stories of her childhood memories of life on a Minnesota farm, and she also wrote fictional stories that were published weekly in a column entitled, "Story Teller" for the Ypsilanti Courier.

In the fall of 2002, Elizabeth had a stroke that left her with aphasia. Fortunately, she was not affected by paralysis; however, her walker is her constant companion. After the stroke, she could not say anything except "yes;" Could not count, could not write, could not say the alphabet. After many months and years of therapy, she was able to communicate and continued to attend her writing groups, church, and women's groups, and loved to dine out every occasion she got.

She was no longer able to write stories. Elizabeth's motivation and drive had enabled her to come as far as she had and to lead a pretty normal life.

Mary Elizabeth Cooper Mike died in Michigan April 17, 2009.

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2011: this is the year to honor Kimball's 1886 founding fathers