Tag Archives: grandparents

My Grandfather’s Words: Friday and Saturday, July 12, 13, 1918

Editors Note: I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch for a few weeks. I’ve posted two entries from my grandfather’s journal to make up for it.


Weather was hot both this A.M and this P.M. I thought with the dark clouds there would be rain, but it was a dust storm.

Breakfast was liver & onions, bread, fried spuds. Lunch was cold roast beef, sliced potatoes with gravy, bread, water, and applesauce. For supper we ate bread, water, potatoes, meat, and gravy. I bought two sticks of candy.

Up at 6:10. Bathed and dressed by 6:20 reveille. The usual A.M. routine. Some of the men were told off last night to help load horses this morning. They had to rise at 4:20. They loaded out 260 head. Don’t know where they went. The top Sargent went along. I was informed by on the the Vet Corps men some time ago that there were about 11,000 horses and cows here. Several have been sent out since, & I suppose that there are around 900 or 1,000 here now. One of the horses was killed this evening. The men were driving a bunch into the 9th corral. This one slipped and fell and broke a leg. They had to put it down.

I don’t know much other news to set down tonight. I had a letter from Mary Dear written on Tuesday just before she had the operation. I had another letter from James written the day after the operation. Honey had tried to start the second letter but was too weak, so James finished it for her. She was at O’Neils. James had taken her there from the doctor’s office. She was in as satisfactory a condition as could be hoped for at that time. My dear girl. God keep her & take care of her for Jesus’s sake. Amen.


Weather: A warm light rain this A.M.

Breakfast was hot cakes with syrup, coffee, a banana & cornflakes. For lunch we had bread, beans, cocoa, & tapioca pudding. For supper we had bread, water, spagetti with mean and apple cobbler.

I was up at usual time, bathed and dressed as per my usual routine. Worked in A & B & 6th corral today. We quit about 4 P.M. I had a hair cut. After mess, Ralph & I went to town. Hiked in and bame back on the car. I was looking for a furnished rooms. I was trying to get the lay of this end of town. Had a letter from Honey Girl written the next A.M. after she had her operation. She sat up in bed & wrote & and was feeling fairly good but weak. Aunt Frances was going to fix her something to drink, some kind of broth. I expect that would strengthen her.scan0039camp-macarthur.preview

My Grandfather’s Words: Monday May 13, 1918 (Part B)

The Wait was Over

The officers finally came and passed up one line and down another until they had looked over us all. There were three train loads of men drawn up there. It took some time to inspect everyone.

Then, they started line by line down to the boarding tracks where the trains were waiting. We were quickly loaded on and one after another the trains pulled away from the station. Continue reading My Grandfather’s Words: Monday May 13, 1918 (Part B)

My Grandfather’s Words: Monday May 13, 1918 (Part A)

Time to Pack

I don’t remember the time I woke up this morning, but I remember I went and had a cold shower just about day break.

The previous evening I had had my arm with the boils on it looked at by a doctor. He told me to go on sick report in the morning. So I went. There were so many there before me. The doctor just put iodine on my arm and bandaged it up again. It must have been nearly 8:30 when I got out. I hustled for the mess hall and arrived just in time. I nearly missed my breakfast. Continue reading My Grandfather’s Words: Monday May 13, 1918 (Part A)

My Grandfather’s Words: Saturday May 11, 1918 Part B

If you haven’t been following along, this is a multi-part series lifted from the pages of my grandfather’s diary from the 1918. He has just entered the service during WWI. This is Part 2 of His First Day in the United States Army.

Still Naked.

I was taken by the arm back to the place where I was grabbed out of line, and was started past the typewriters again. Certain lines were typed on my cards and papers, which I was to collect somewhere along the line. Finally we got to a man who was stamping names and numbers on a little aluminum disk. We were each given two of these with our names and service number on them These we were told to string on the card string we still had on our necks that we’d been given at the registration hall.

From here, we were passed to a little place in the last corner where one man disinfected a spot on our right shoulder blade, another shot a syringe of anti-typhoid stuff in, and a third man swabbed the place with iodine.

I forgot to say that we left our blankets at the door when we first entered the torture chamber much earlier in the day. All this time we had nothing on. Continue reading My Grandfather’s Words: Saturday May 11, 1918 Part B

My Grandfather’s Words: Saturday May 11, 1918 part A


The train arrived in St. Louis about 10 AM, and after being switched around the train yards a while, we were hauled out to Jefferson Barracks. We were ordered to stay on the train until we had orders to get off. This being our first orders they sounded rather harsh.

At the Barracks we were ordered off the trains and lined up two by two and marched to the registering hall. We were registered and given a string with a tag on it for around our necks. The tag had our names and the group we were classified with. After standing there for some time we were taken to a barrack and told to rest a while. They showed us where we could wash and get a drink of water. It was now nearly noon. Most of us were very tired and hungry. Mary girl had given me a lunch and some cake and popcorn and candy. So I fared better than some of the boys who had no breakfast.

About half past twelve they lined us up and took us to the mess hall for dinner. The mess hall was a huge structure capable of seating several thousand men at one time. We were seated at long tables. We ate everything we saw. I guess I don’t remember much of what they offered. But we ate it, whatever it was. Continue reading My Grandfather’s Words: Saturday May 11, 1918 part A

My Grandfather’s Words: Thursday May 9, 1918

wedding-of-grampa-and-grammaMy grandfather, Glenn Ethan Hollopeter married my grandmother, Mary Dowson Leask on February 26, 1918.

The following is the first entry from my grandfather’s Journal:

Mary and I returned from Tracy, Minnesota, at 3 A.M. (Brother Ben lived there.) We went to Mary’s folks, and to bed.

Leask Home in Mason City
In 1906 Mary’s family moved to the Waterloo area from this house of seven gables in Mason City, Iowa

In the morning, I went out to the farm to get my trunk, and finish straightening things up there. I saw Oliver and asked him if I could hire Harvey for the morning. He told me go ahead. So I had Harvey go down to the station, get my trunk, and fetch it out to the farm. I had taken it out to Mother’s to put my fur coat and other things in it. Continue reading My Grandfather’s Words: Thursday May 9, 1918

In His Own Words: My Grandfather’s Diary

sam_1532When I was visiting my sweet cousins this past summer, cousin Jan came to me with a heavy-looking red book in her hands. She held it out to me, “I’ve read some of this. It’s Grandpa’s journal from his time in the army during World War One.”

Wow. Just wow!

As I flipped through it, I found some loose pages. I asked her what they were and she said she didn’t know.

All that afternoon, she and I transcribed what was Grandpa’s earliest recollections and his Christian testimony. I say ‘transcribed’ because his handwriting was nearly illegible. He was left-handed and his teachers taught him to write right-handed, you see. Some words we had to figure out letter by letter and then look up on the internet to try to decipher them.

So, I give you my Grandfather’s story, in his own words.

Early years

scan0011Father was a blacksmith.I was born in Raymond, Iowa and moved to Ladora when I was 1 years old. We moved to Crawford, Colorado when I was 6 years old. In Crawford, Father died in the spring of 1900. I was nine years old. Mother brought my brother and I back to Iowa that year, after selling the blacksmith shop and the house in Crawford. We lived with her folks a few months. Then she bought the hotel in Washburn and operated that for several months. When she married Frank Hemmer we moved to Caliofe, Iowa, near Hawarden, lived there a few months and moved to a farm across the big Sioux River to South Dakota. Continue reading In His Own Words: My Grandfather’s Diary

A bit of my History in Pictures

It has come to my attention as I was selling and signing books at the Menil Fest today that I have failed to write any blogs for a very long time. It’s easy to rely on re-posting or re-blogging information that is sent to me. Add to that my daughter’s wedding and all that goes with it, I’ve been a busy monkey these past few months. I get lazy about posting.

So I thought, why not give you a few pictures of my father’s childhood home and my grandparent’s life.

My father was born in October of 1925 in Capetown, South Africa.

Now, if you knew my father you would never have guessed that he was born anywhere but Texas. You would never know that his father spoke with a Scottish accent and his mother spoke with a German accent, because all Robbie Thompson sounded like was a Texan through and through. His drawl was long, and like any true Texan, he never met a stranger, and he drank coffee with everything.

His mother, my Nannie, once told me that she could see Table-top mountain from her hospital window when she was giving birth to him. Here’s a picture of my father’s father when he was a tot. He was younger than two here. His brother and sister are in the picture. I met his sister when I was a child. She came to visit us. I remember she was very proper sounding.3821156377_d8087a04ba_m

My great grandfather was a hotelier in Durban, SA. When my grandfather was born in Glasgow, Scotland, his father took the rest of the family and went by wooden ship to Durban, leaving my grandfather and his mom in Glasgow until he was two at which time they took another ship and went to Durban. Here’s a picture of my grandfather’s parents:3821158323_55cb36484a

My grandfather was a preacher for the government of S.A. He was assigned to provide protestant services to the Rangers at the ranger stations.Here’s a picture of him working in a native hut:3821157683_74f18db8aa

He and my grandmother were allowed to live in a caboose kitted out like a home. Here’s a picture:


The caboose was attached to the train and pulled to a ranger station and left on a side line. The train would travel all the way around the country of S. A. until they came back to that station. The caboose was reattached and taken to the next ranger station and so on. This went on for ten years. My father was born in 1925 and my aunt was born in 1928. My father lived on the caboose for seven years. Here’s a picture of my father and my aunt Ruth:


Here’s a picture of my grandfather, grandmother, father and Ruth:3821152965_ba91935106_s

Here’s another picture: 3821160793_4e6828c357My grandmother was born in Weimar, TX. Even though she lived in S. A. she always loved Texas best of all. She could travel anywhere in the world and she always wanted to come home to Texas more than anything else. She was German. You probably know that there is a huge population of Germans and Czechoslovakian here in Texas. Galveston was second to Ellis Island for taking in immigrants. In the late 1800’s there were a lot of Slavic and Baltic people coming to the U.S. My grandmother’s parents were from Prussia. She was a first generation American.

She did not speak English until first grade. But after WWII she would not admit to knowing German, she was ashamed of what happened in Germany. But when I was a very small child she sang lullabies to us in German. I guess she thought we would never remember them, but I do.

A daughter no longer

Queen Wilhelmina & Juliana
Queen Wilhelmina & Juliana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It isn’t easy to lose a parent. It isn’t easy to lose anyone. I lost my niece when she was 23. I was torn asunder. I can only imagine what her parents went through. What a horrible, horrible thing. I still break apart thinking of her. That’s why I dedicated the book, I was working on when she died, to her.

Today, I realized I am no longer a daughter. I am still a sister, a mother, a wife, but “daughter” was knocked off the list when my mother died last Sunday. I still find it hard to believe. Not because I thought she was invincible, but because every time she slipped into a more fragile state she would somehow spring back. In the back of my mind, I thought she would spring back this time, too. She didn’t.

She really is dead.

She had stopped eating a month ago. I tried to get her to eat. I poured soup into her mouth. It dribbled out. She gave me “the look” as if to say, “Are you nuts?”. The hospice nurse assured me this was the body’s way of shutting down. When mom stopped drinking I wanted to put an IV in her to hydrate her but the nurse said that if the body shuts down, the kidneys stop working. If the kidneys stop working, the water has no place to go, except the most delicate organs, i.e. the lungs. Then, the patient drowns. That is a horrible way to go. So, no IV.

There is nothing more difficult than watching your loved one fade away, while you are helpless to stop it, to make things better. In other parts of my life I’ve been able to control the outcome. No one can control the outcome of another life.

I wanted the nursing home to call me when she was getting near. We had spent some time with her that day and she was breathing heavily. I should have known. I. should. have. known. But I went out to eat with my husband and before the food arrived, the nursing home called to tell me she had died. There couldn’t be a harder thing to hear. I had wanted to BE there.

Listen. My mother didn’t care. If she were alive and we were discussing this she would tell me she would not have cared if I was sitting there when she passed away because she was happy to leave. She wanted to leave. She was looking forward to being with Jesus. And Dad.

You may think this is happy “platitude” time, but it isn’t. I was watching her on the monitor. She was virtually paralyzed from a stroke that week, but she moved and opened her eyes. She was looking at the ceiling and moving her lips. Her hand moved, reached out. I don’t know if she saw my father, or her parents, or Jesus, but whoever it was, it was a powerful enough vision to give her the strength to move immovable limbs.

You can rest assured in your hatred of all things Christian or “godly” but give me faith in Christ any day, my friend. There is nothing to lean on except Jesus when you get to the point where you are facing eternity and have time to think about it. My only concern for you is if you must face eternity with no time to decide what to do, as in the event of a car accident. I mean – Boom! Hello!

Please don’t let that happen.


Rainy Day Funday

Amazing, when she's asleep, she's goodness per...
Amazing, when she’s asleep, she’s goodness personified, when she’s awake, let’s just say that I have more grey hairs on my head now, than I did 3 years ago! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My usual morning routine is this: I haven’t got one. Monday through Friday I rise at 4:15 and stumble downstairs and then across a small yard to my daughter’s apartment above our garage. I get into her bed as she is off to save the world from micro-organisms that may be up at that hour also. The grand-girl is asleep. Well, usually. More usually (IS there such a phrase? Yes, at that hour, yes.) she wakes as soon as her mother leaves. I fix her a bottle and put her in bed with me. This sometimes gives me a few more winks, but sometimes I’m not able to go back to sleep and I lie awake planning all the things I could get done as soon as there is light to see.

Let me just say here. We have tried the cry herself to sleep business and it doesn’t work for her. More like cry-herself-to-throwing-up-her-supper is what happens. Let’s just say her mother doesn’t let her cry herself to sleep but perhaps for others that is an option.


The past few weeks the grand-girl has been waking at 9 AM (the real wake time is when she sits up and says “Hi!”, other times she wakes crying, she isn’t awake.) I have already made myself a cup of milky sweet tea and have drunk it. She is so adorable when she wakes. She crawls out of bed and brings me my crocs, one clutched under each arm. I change her and dress her and take her to my house to see Big Boy and think about what we will do for the day.


The past week it has rained, seems like nonstop, so we haven’t done much. Yesterday after her mother got home from work, we all went to Babies-R-Us to stock up on foods for her. I discovered Sam Moon imports next to Babies-R-Us. It is a big-box store full of really cheap designer knock-off purses, cheap, shiny jewelry, and wallets. I didn’t think I would get anything but I actually surprised myself and ended up buying a wallet.

Still rainy afterward, all night last night and mucho-much-more rain today.


She is asleep as I type this. So precious. Such angels when asleep, right? Here is a snippet of what we do on rainy days. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of loading a video, so – Hope it works for you.