History of the Aho Family - 1920-1929

This is a year-by-year description of activities in the Aho family of Clifford, Wisconsin in the 1920s. These are mainly from recollections of Tyne and Lillian.



At age 12, Tyne quit school. She was in the third grade.



"I was always crazy about going to school. She was always begging her mother that when could she go to school. The neighbor lady, Mrs. Kartenin, said to her mother, 'Why don't you send her to school?' So then I started school at 8 years old.

"My parents claimed that they didn't send her before, because it was too cold in the winter and she didn't have the right kind of shoes.

"Everyone in Clifford thought that you were just lazy if you went to school. They thought it was better to work hard."


Hulda used to worry about Hjalmer, because his father Andrew used to beat him up a lot. The other children thought that she favored Hjalmer, but she just wanted to protect him.


Einar quits school at age 13. He was in the third or fourth grade.



When he turned 8, Wayne started to go to school. He was a slow learner, but in those days the teachers would only teach the brighter students. So soon Wayne didn't bother to go to school every day.

One time, when it was Februaury 14th, Wayne was anxious to go to school to get some Valentine cards. It was bitter cold that day - well below zero - but Wayne and Lillian both walked one mile to their shcool. None of the other children were in school that day, because of it was so cold. Wayne's ears were frozen, Lillians toes were frozen, and their faces were red as beets. So, neither got their Valentines.



The only real joy Hulda and Andrew had was their children. Lillian used to put shows on, when her father felt crabby or something. She would put on his old overalls on and danced and make funny faces and jabber, and they would laugh.

They would do anything for their children. One time they gave their last dime to Tyne, so she could go to the dance.


But still, kids will be kids. Near the school were some railroad tracks. One day, a slowly moving train went by, and Wayne tried to hop on it for a ride. The teacher saw that and when she got ahold of Wayne, she slapped him across the face on both sides. Wayne said that his face went back and forth for a long time after that.


15 year old Tyne got a job at the veneer mill in Clifford. She used to wear pants, overalls, and a boy's cap, and she walked 3 miles to work every morning and home every night.

Every time she got her check, she would give it to her father, and he would get groceries. He would be so proud that he could pay for them. It was so hard, because he didn't have much money.


All the money Andrew made was from fixing shoes. Nothing came out of the farm. They had 3 cows for milk and butter, but what they got from the land, besides hay for the cows for the winter, was a few vegetables, like rutabaga.

The house had a basement that wasn't finished, with just a dirt floor, so Andrew mixed up the dirt on top of the potatoes and rutabaga and kept them there for the winter.

They would buy or kill animals for meat. The children would stir the animal's blood so that it wouldn't curdle, and then they would make some blood pancakes out of it. They were good!


Tyne recalled: One time I had left home, but she didn't get the train or something, and they thought that I had left. I had come through the window and was on the upstairs steps by the bedroom, listening. They said, "By now, she should be in Ironwood."

I guess I was going to Ironwood that time. I was just giggling and listening. They were so surprised when I came out there then, from behind the door.


Lillian and Wayne

Once, Lillian and Wayne were playing on the second floor of the barn, where the hay was kept. In the middle of the floor was an opening, where the hay could be thrown down. Lillian told Wayne, "Why don't you jump down? It feels good." So Wayne jumped down and nearly broke his back.

Another time Wayne started a huge fire, which almost burned down the farm. He never admitted he started that fire until he was grown up.

That year, Tyne and Wayne both got very sick. They both turned yellow, and the doctor said they had Yellow Jaundice.

Wayne had few friends, except for the neighbor boy, Royce, who played with him. One day he was near the store and a bunch of boys started to chase him. They yelled at Wayne, "Go away. You're just a 'nobody'." Wayne ground his teeth and thought, "I'll show you ignorant fools. I'll be somebody."


The children were growing up and leaving the family. Hjalmer left around 1924, when he was 17, to join Nick in Duluth. Nick worked for a newspaper there and helped Hjalmer get started in that business.

Attitude toward animals

The kids on the farm never thought anything was wrong with doing things to animals. They would catch a horsefly by the barn and put a broomstraw in its rear-end. Then they'd throw it in the air, and it would fly for a while and then fall on the ground and die later.

They used to do the same thing with a snake. They would put a stick to hold it's mouth open and then just leave it like that.

Then once a woodchuck got under the Aho outhouse. There was a board loose, so Wayne and Lillian took the board off and saw this big fat woodchuck. They thought they would catch him, so they took a stick and pushed it right in its stomach. They pushed it real hard, and the woodchuck was biting the stick. But they never thought anything of it.

Another time, there was a porcupine walking around, so they turned him over on his back. A porcupine can't get up very good, when it's on its back.

Also they had a goat in the back yard, tied to a pole. They would tease the goat and then run behind the pole and bend over. The goat would smash into the pole. Finally its horns were all bloody.

Perhaps there were too many animals around then, so they didn't think anything of it. But they were good to their cats and dogs and chickens. The chickens would come right into the house if the kids had their way.


Tyne leaves Clifford at age 16 to stay with Nick in Duluth. She works as a maid. F.



Tyne recalled: I was still 16 in 1925 when she left Clifford. Nick had come down to Clifford, and Tyne left with him when he returned to Duluth. She stayed there with Nick. She got a job there at a doctor's home as a maid.


Andrew felt pretty bad about it when Tyne quit her job and moved out, but she just wanted to go and leave town for some reason, like all the others that had left Clifford. She just wanted to get away.


I got a job with this doctor. And the first day, I went into the living room to crochet, and the lady told me that maids are not supposed to be sitting in the living room. That is what my room is for.

I was so hurt by that, that I cried for three days straight, such that my eyes were all big and red when I worked.

That is when I started to get lonesome, so I wrote home, and Dad wrote back that I should come home.

Soon I quit the job. Nick and Fanny had said that they wer real nice people, but I lied and said that I quit because they were real mean.



I didn't go home yet, though. I was 17, and I got another job for some Jewish people. This Jewish man, he was a flirt. I was washing the walls, and was coming there and trying to make out and love me up. And me - I was so bashful in those days. Then I left that job, too. I told Fanny, Nick's wife, what he did to me. So she goes to his wofe and tells her, but he said, no, that he never did anything like that, trying to make out. But he did. I gues the husband and wife got into quite and argument. But Fanny had to go there and tell them.



One day Lillian's girlfriend Ann and her didn't go to school. They came home and helped her father pull the rutabagers from the garden. The next day the teacher wanted to know why they weren't in school. Ann said to Lillian, "Let's never tell her." So they were kept after school. They were 13 year old the time.

Also about that time, they were coming home from school, and there was a younger fellow who was the bus driver. They gave Lillian a ride home, and she sat on the fender, because there wasn't any room in the car.

When he came to her corner, she said, "This is where I get off." He slowed down a little, and she jumped off the fender before the car stopped. She rolled over and over and really felt she was going to die, because she saw everything spinning.

He stopped the car and asked if she was hurt. Lillian said, "No." But she got a great big black eye and her hip was blue.

So she couldn't even finish school, because she looked such a sight.


Einar left around 1926 to join Nick and Hjalmer at the newspaper.


After that, I did go home and stayed for a while. And then, when I was 18, I went to Ironwood. She works in a restaurant.



When I was about 14, there was one boy, that whenever he saw me, he would grab my leg so that I fell. I just hated that boy and was so happy that he graduated before me. That is all he wanted to do was to make me fall down. He didn't hurt me otherwise. He was two years younger than me.


Tyne married Tom Hendrickson in Ironwood, Michigan on September 26, 1927, before her 19th birthday.

Tyne recalled:

I was going around with a guy there, but then I met Tom, and we got married. I was only going with him for three months. Tom was really persistant about things, when he wanted something.

Tom didn't have nothing when we got married. Really. He wasn't working. And then he wanted to buy that ring for me. It was a ring that only cost $5, one of those gold ones.

But I said, "I don't want that. I want that silver one with the rose blossoms."

I've still got that ring. That cost $9, so he had to go to Jesseville and borrow $4 from John so he could get the ring for me.

When we got married, John gave him his car. He had a Buick, you know. The first thing when we got out of the church, there was a flat on the car. So we fixed that. Then it started snowing and drizzle, you know. We drove to Ashland and went to a movie there. That was our honeymoon.

When we went out, Tom was closing my boots, because we were young, just like kids. The other people were looking and said, "Isn't that a cute couple?" I always remember that.

So then we came back. I was working in Ironwood, and Tom was staying with John in the grocery store.

I was working in a family place in a different location in Ironwood. Tom used to come there to play around. Ha ha. I fought like a cat, even if I was his wife. Ha ha. He was married to me. He wasn't going to be without it.

Once in a while, we snuck upstairs, when no one was home. The people were out, in the place where I was working. I worked there 3 months.

Then we went to work at the camps. We decide we were going to save $500. Each one would get $500 for working at the camps. I was the second cook.

There again, Tom had to stay with the men. The men had to stay in one part, and I had to stay in the cook house with her. The man who ran the camp's wife was the cook. They didn't allow no women... See, he wasn't with his wife either. Those days we would have to go in the sticks.

I wanted to stay at the camp. We would have $1000 at the end of the season, and that was a lot of money, especially in those days. But Tom wanted to go, and he wouldn't leave me there. So I left with him, and we lost the $1000, except what we made so far.

Then Tom got spinal meningitis. I went to work at... Times were tough in those days. We didn't hardly have any food or anything. Tom was walking the streets. It was 1927. We weren't even married long. You see these things happened in a short time - being in the camp and all that.

We lived in one room in town with an 80 year old lady. We didn't have hardly anything to eat, and the old lady was heating hamburgers on the stove, and I got so hungry that I had to sneak one from there.

Then I got a job doing housework and Tom went to live with John in Jesseville. So then we were separated again.

Then John came after me that Tom was at his home. He was coming down the stairs , and he passed out. He was paralyzed from his waist down to his toes, and he had no feeling there at all.

That was winter time and there was a lot of snow. I didn't know how to get there. Oh, they caled me, and I took a cab from downtown. And the cab couldn't make it and got stuck half way to Jesseville. So I walked the rest of the way to the grocery store, where Tom was, and I stayed there.

They had a maid helping in the grocery store and stuff. And Tom had his room where he was staying and stuff. In the evening, I went to sleep with the maid. Now, isn't that something? Why wouldn't I go to sleep with Tom? He was the one that was sick, and I could ahve sat there with him.

Well, anyway, John came there after a while, because Tom had asked for me. He comes there and he got so mad. He said, "What do you think I got you here for? You should be with your husband." I didn't say anything. I just got up and went.


Then when the ambulance came - they had to have the snowplows to open the roads - they took Tom ti the hospital, and I went with him.

And then when I got in that room I stayed there, and they never let me out for three weeks. I was stuck in that room with Tom.

They got me a cot. There was a washbowl and a toilet. I don't know how I passed the time. I only had one outfit on. That's what I had on the whole time. Well, I probably washed myself or something. I had only one outfit. I had no pyjama or nothing. When I slept, i just took off the top. Isn't that crazy?

Then the nurse came there... Oh, I was getting a little bored, and Tom wanted something - he was in such terrible pain. So I would walk out there and go to the nurse at the desk. And they would say, "Oh, you're not supposed to go there, because it's so canageous. Because there were babies. The babies will get spinal meningitis." So then they said, "You'd better go back to your room."

I went back, but after a while I couldn't stand it, so I went back out and leaned against the wall. They said, "Don't lean against the wall," you know, because anything I bring from in there will bring the germs.

When they brought bed clothes, I had to change them, and all the clothes were left in the closet there.

Food that they brought - they had theor own dishes, and they poured it in our dishes. If any of the cups touched, they left the cup in there too.


Then I remember when the doctor came and started to take the liquid from Tom's body. There were three - what do you call them - attendants to hold him. He was on his stomach. They can't give nothing when it is in the spine. They can't kill the nerve. So they started digging with a little spoon, like that. And Tom just about went crazy. He threw the guy right over the radiator.

They got that stuff, and every day they kept putting something in there to take something out. And in time, the doctor - Dr. Peirpont, I remember that - he just cams there to take Tom's leg and try to see if there was any feeling. Slowly, but surely, the feeling came back.



Around 1928, when Lillian was 15, she played some tricks on another girl. There was this one real fat girl, Kate Layno, and she was real crazy about boys. So, one day two boys and a girl came up to Lillian and said, "Let's play a joke on her." The girls would hide in the back of the car and find out if she talks about them.

So they hid on the floor of the car, and the two boys went and picked her up. She came in the car, and the boys questioned her and tried to get her to say something about the girls, but she wouldn't say one bad word about them.

After they brought her home, the girls got out of the back seat and sure had a good laugh about it.

She was very intelligent, and she could draw and do anything, but she was so crazy about boys. Everyone thought she was oversexed. She was especially crazy about this one boy, so another girl and Lillian wrote a letter to her. It said how about a date and that she should warm up the bath house and then we both can get hot. And to meet me by the bridge.

Lillian told that she had sent this letter to Kate to another girl. Then she heard that the boy had gotten real mad about the letter and told Kate, "I never sent you that letter! Wait until I find out who sent that letter!"

Lillian was afraid, since she thought that other girl would probably tell him, but she never did.


In Clifford, they knew everybody there, so they could walk along the road and hope that some guys would come along. When the girls saw a car coming, they would turn around so they would be going the same way. It didn't matter which way they were going, just so they could get a ride from some guys.

Some of the time, the boys stopped the car and talked and laughed and had a good time. Sometimes they took them out for a drive.

On Saturday night, the boys didn't even make a date. They just came by to see if the girls were gone or what.


The last teacher Lillian had for the 7th and 8th grades was the best teacher she ever had for teaching the right English and things. And she kept order in the school so that the kids behaved. But still Lillian didn't like the way she treated this one girl - they called her "cornpipe."

Every boy was after her. They had a great big stick and said, "Shall we kill her?" Her father was the bus driver, so she sat in the bus until everyone went into the school.

When she told the teacher about it, the teacher just said, "Don't be a tattletale." Lillian felt that if it would have been her kid, she would have called the sheriff. The girl had just as much right to walk into the school as the other kids. They called her cornpipe, because she was so skinny.

Lillian moves to Duluth

After Lillian had gone for a few months in the 8th grade, her brother Nick sent a letter saying, "Why don't you come here to Duluth, and we will send you to beauty school." That is what she always wanted to be - a beauty operator.

So she left school, at age 15. Her teacher felt real bad, because she left in the middle of the year. She felt that Lillian should have finished up the 8th grade.

Lillian wanted to leave Clifford to improve herself and to get better clothes.

Lillain went to Duluth, but Nick and Fanny never brought her to school, and she was so anxious to go to night school. They just had her come over there to take care of their children. When she asked about the school, Fanny always said, "Oh, I'm too tired to bring you there tonight."


Lillian returns to Clifford

Lillian stayed with Nick and Fanny for 6 months before she went back home to Clifford.

Lillian had just turned 16 then, after returning to Clifford from Nick's. She wrote a letter to Tyne in Milwaukee that she wanted to come there to work. Tyne and Tom wrote back that times are so bad that she had better wait until she is a little older.

Lillian didn't like the idea of waiting at all, so she wrote a letter to her cousin Mary in Chicago, and asked if she could come there. Mary said that she had her doors open, and she would help Lillian get a job. Mary was the type that would let anyone in. But Lillian decided not to go to Chicago and waited another year.


They always had dances in Clifford, Brantwood, and Tripoli, but Lillian was never really very popular then. She felt it was because she didn't look very good and was skinny and tall and had some pimples on her face. Then when she got close to 18, she started to get real popular, because she started to fill out.

History of Aho Family