Sunday, November 6, 2016

Miss November!

Today, being Sunday, I headed to Iowa to have dinner with family members that were available. I left early enough that I stopped in Fulton, IL to visit with my aunt Velma Ketelsen who is in the nursing home there. Growing up in the area, it seemed most weekends the 6 kids in our family spent time with their 7 kids at their place or ours, so more than most families, they were part of our own. I was surprised as I walked down the hall to her room that she had been named the "November Resident Spotlight", but I prefer the moniker "Miss November"! Someone from the staff interviewed her (below with minor edits) and took her picture to post with the biography, and I added a few photos of her that have appeared before on the blog. So here she is, MISS NOVEMBER!

Velma Fallesen was born on her parent's farm in rural Charlotte, IA on 28 Nov, 1927. Velma had 3 sisters and a brother. Her and her siblings went to the Fallesen Country School, so named because the school was built on land Velma's family owned. She started school there at the age of 4, but doesn't know why she started so early. I suggested perhaps she was just exceptionally brilliant and could not wait until 6.

During the depression, like many Midwesterners, Velma's family lost the family farm. When she was 11 the family moved to town (Charlotte). Her father soon went to work at the Savanna Army Depot while Velma and her siblings began a new school in town. She graduated from High School in 1944.

Picnic at the farm w/great-niece and nephew(Aug 2008)
Velma with niece Kathy (Mar 2010)
After High School, Velma went to work for a local farmer's wife. She worked very hard tending the children, cooking, canning fruits and vegetables and doing housework. While Velma worked on a farm, so did her sweetheart Arlo. They had met in grade school. They married in 1945 at age 18. Velma and Arlo had a small wedding with family as attendants, marrying at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Charlotte. For another three years Velma and Arlo rented a farm and worked it until they could at last purchase their own. They were very hard workers, Velma tended the children, cooked, cleaned, butchered chickens to sell and to eat. Arlo milked dairy cows, raised crops, and butchered cattle and hogs. Velma helped Arlo with the outdoor chores as well as doing her indoor chores. She tells me nothing went to waste including liver, brains and the cows tongue. Velma said she cold-packed a lot of meat until they got their first electric freezer.

Velma and her husband had seven children and 34 Grandchildren. Arlo came from a family of eleven siblings, so the large close family pleased them both.

We share birthday cake in 2013 (we're 3 weeks apart)
Velma and Arlo stayed busy attending sports events of both their children and grandchildren. They also met with friends and family often. A typical night out usually consisted of a good meal, conversation and perhaps a game of cards.

Velma and a friend enjoyed walking daily and would even go out when the weather was quite cold.  They met almost daily and kept their walking routine for 20 years.

She and Arlo enjoyed traveling around the United States by car, usually but not always to visit relatives. She has kept a journal for many years, and read me several entries from 1983. Velma's journal entries always contained a brief weather description. She also always mentioned the book she was reading and working on a jigsaw puzzle in inclement weather. Many of the entries talked about chores and made references to cooking and recipes.

Arlo passed away in 1998. Velma remained on the farm for many more years before moving to town (Clinton). She came to live at harbor Crest about 14 months ago. Ironically she lives across the hall from her sister-in-law (also named Velma!). She tells me she and her sister-in-law refer to themselves as real sisters. They can often be found sitting outside together on a warm sunny day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hahahaha Miss November is Awesome! If I didn't know better I'd think I was reading about my own grandmother Flora. Farmer, gardener, quilter, canner, bar none.

I also started school at 4. There's a big difference between 4 and 6 year olds in emotional maturity. Especially in the city. One might be able to do the math so to say, but understanding playground behavior or group dynamics can be baffling for a 4 y/o in a group of 6 yr olds.