A to Z Challenge: Now We Are Parents

A family with 9 children survived life on the Kansas prairie in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The experiences they had illustrate the joys, sorrows, hardships and everyday life of the Midwest pioneers. This faith filled series of stories is true. The eldest child was my great grandmother Alzina Pomeroy Boone.


From Alzina’s own writing: “On October 15, 1891, a Thursday morning, our first born, a son was born to us. We named him Stanley Emerson. Milford wished to name him Stanley for the first name, and I wanted his middle name to be Emerson, after my father. “

“I had always liked babies that were old enough to play, but felt awkward with tiny babies. But, this one was different, and so were each of my babies, charming from the very first day. After he had been bathed and fed, and admired by all present, he looked up at me with wide-open eyes as we lay in bed, seeming to study my face and read my mind. Mother said, “We’ve been telling what we think of him. Now he is finding out what he thinks of you.” I felt the responsibility of being mother to an intelligent, immortal soul, and prayed as I had prayed for several months that I might train him in the way of eternal life.”

“He was a healthy baby. We were very happy parents. I had only a few of the ailments common to young mothers, though they seemed very serious to me then, as I had never suffered real pain in my twenty years of healthy girlhood. Stanley was usually smiling or crowing when awake and comfortable. When he awoke in the morning, we each raced to be first to take him up. On cold winter days we kept him in the warm kitchen where I cooked and worked. We fixed him a bed with pillows in our large arm chair rocker.

He was usually awake when Milford came home from school and at the sound of his father’s voice, or even his step, the little fellow would twist and turn his head till he caught sight of him, and then how his feet and arms would fly to express his delight. If Milford stepped out of sight, Stanley would again twist and turn and watch till Milford appeared again, and then he would kick and crow in delight.”

“Often I laid him on the table while I washed dishes, or ironed, or I laid him on the bed while I made beds, and he showed the same ecstasy whenever I spread a cloth or sheet over him and then removed it . Our days passed happily and swiftly by.”

“At Christmas time, 1891, we spent a few days at my parent’s home. The first night there, Stanley was very restless and cried quite awhile in the night. I made sure that there was no physical ailment to distress him – just nervousness at being in a strange place. He would not be consoled by his father’s caresses as he usually would.

Finally, Milford turned him over and spanked him. Oh, it seemed to me he spanked so hard! But, I did not interfere. I had determined to never do that, for I had seen so many children spoiled and homes made unhappy by such interference by one or both parents.”

“I knew Milford loved the child, and I could trust him to punish wisely. Of course, he cried more loudly and in a frightened way for a minute or two, but when Milford spoke again, sternly and with a little, but firm, shake, he hushed his cries and nestled in his father’s arms quietly and before long he was asleep. It was the best treatment for the baby, but oh he was such a little fellow and too young to punish, I had felt. It took real self-control and determination for me to refrain from crying out in protest. I am sure this experience made us parents to have more confidence in each other, and the cooperation that makes parenthood happy and successful.”

Stanley grew in stature and in favor with God and man. He learned to creep as fast as I could walk, by the time that the paths out of doors were dry and warm enough to him to creep on. Before long he learned to walk. Every new accomplishment of his was a delight to us.

We both found much pleasure in talking to him and trying to imagine his jabbering was meant to express thought, and was talking. But he began to talk in sentences. I noticed that he made the same series of sound in a pleading, teasing tone as I set the table for the noon meal to be ready for Milford. When he drove home with the team, Stanley began that same cry, “t-i-i-i-e-e-e.” I told Milford, “He has been crying like that for the last half hour or more. What does he mean?” Milford caught him up and placed him in his chair at the table, saying, “It’s time to eat”, Milford’s usual call to him for dinner. Then we began to notice that he spoke whole sentences that way.

The family grew to four. John Milford (my grandfather) was born in May of 1883. Ethel Philena was born in 1894 and Esther came along in 1896.

Stanley and John, standing Ethel and Esther, seated

Fear Not

I am always, ALWAYS thankful for safe travel.  Air travel especially is a marvel in this day and age.  When you look at the statistics, which I don’t happen to have at hand, going somewhere by plane is many times safer than going by car on a road trip.  Yet we all get in cars and travel without giving it too much thought.  But many people have a phobia about getting on a plane.

Maybe it’s being strapped into something akin to an aluminum can, with dozens of strangers….

Maybe it’s knowing that one man’s alertness, judgment and skill determines whether your flight ends well or badly….

Maybe it’s wondering what you would think about for the last 120 seconds of your life should you be accidentally sucked out of the plane….

Maybe it’s walking down that aisle and discovering that your seat for the next three hours is next to… a baby.

A baby that’s already been on the plane for two hours.

A baby who is possibly putting on that look of “I’m done here.” and whose mother is nervously bouncing her up and down on her knee, hoping for the best, whatever that is.

Meet Eleanor.


Ellie’s carseat had the window place, she and her mom were in the middle seat and I was in the aisle seat.  I always choose aisle seats.  Somehow it lessens the claustrophobia.

The nice man across the aisle from me felt obligated to say what a good baby she was the whole flight from Ft. Lauderdale.  “Smiled all the way.” he said.  I know babies.  Two hours of smiling at one stretch is about their limit.

Sure enough, as we sat endlessly watching people trying to put their way-too-big carryons in the over head bins, Ellie got tired of being bounced and cajoled and started to, well, cry.  She got red, and angry.  She let her mom know that she didn’t want to be stuck under a blanket to nurse, most definitely not that.  She was hot, sweating, infinitely uncomfortable.

Honestly, at that point I was overcome with sympathy and compassion for mama, because everyone in the plane was turning around and holding her responsible.  Her worst scenario was coming to pass and she had emptied her bag of tricks. (No really the worst scenario would have been trying to put oxygen masks on herself and the baby… I’m guessing.)

“You know, it can’t get much worse. Give me the baby. Maybe stranger shock will quiet her down.”  Was that brave of me or what?  And a second later, with no argument at all, it was me and Ellie.  Seat mates.

She really was a good, sweet little child and this story turned out much better than I hoped.  The change of perspective, someone else’s lap, and the air vent that we opened full blast in her face, quieted her down right away.  Personally I think she didn’t want to be bounced any more so I held her quietly and sang in her ear.  As the jet engines roared  to life (and they were about six inches outside our windows on either side – love the back of the plane, not) and we took off on our journey, Ellie went back to her mom and fell asleep for all but the last few minutes of our flight. Nothing as peaceful as a sleeping baby. I got to look at her the whole trip which was sort of a blessing for my blood pressure.

Sleeping child, sleeping mother.  Peace for the whole plane.
Sleeping child, sleeping mother. Peace for the whole plane.

Leaving me free to crochet and enjoy a snack.
Leaving me free to crochet and enjoy a snack.