My Sister, Luella


THE FOLLOWING WAS WRITTEN BY
ALMA (ZIEGENFUS) HOUCK MAY 6, 2002,
FOUR DAYS AFTER HER SISTER LUELLA PASSED ON


Dear Leah, Mary Louise and Charles and families,

First of all - Luella was my favorite and closest sister. As a youngster I held her up as my model. She learned to drive at 16 - I was going to learn at 16 too. In fact she and I drove cars but not Della or Hilda. But Della could drive but her spouse didn't want her to if I understand correctly.

I really don't know much about Luella until she was in High School. Through her , Mom got to use Crisco. In Jr. High she had cooking and sewing classes. In cooking class they used Crisco. Since Mom couldn't get good lard she started to use Crisco too. That was way back in 1922-23.

When she was a Sr. in High School she and another class mate, Dorthea Shaeffer were asked to write their class song. Luella played the piano and Dorthea did too I suppose. They asked Mrs. Caleb Snyder to help them. I believe they put the words to sheet music Luella had. I can still see it. I believe the tune might have been "Let me call you Sweet-heart." I did tell Leah about this years ago and I believe she found it among Luella's music. All of which reminds me, Luella told me in later years that Pop would ask her to play that song and then he'd get on his knees in front of Mom and put his arms toward her and sing the song to her. How romantic, it almost makes me cry. Many years later David was a director of the local Farm Bureau as Sec. then Pres. for many years. At a stockholders meeting (dinner) after the business meeting they'd have some entertainment. This one time they had a group of men singers and I knew the singer who was in charge. He said they would play the first part of a song before the chorus to see if anyone would recognize the song. The room was full of people and no one said a word. I knew it right away so I loudly called "Let me call you Sweetheart". Afterward he came to our table and asked how I knew that tune. I said it was my Dad's favorite song. I must have heard Luella play it so often that perhaps it was her favorite song too. Now to get back to Luella - I recall a class-mate Sam Anewalt coming to see her and she played the piano. Sam worked in the Post-office all his life.

She graduated in 1927. Since Mom and Pop didn't have the money to send her to college - Pop's brother, Uncle Warren, said he'd loan her the money. Uncle Warren was a math teacher in the Allentown High School and an Insurance agent. He had four boys - the oldest a little younger than Luella.

She went to what is now Kutztown University, and that was the last year you could go two years to be a teacher. After this it would be four years and here is something interesting - when Pop went to PolyTechnic Institute in Gilberts, PA the Prin. was a Mr. Rothermel and when Luella went to Kutztown he was the Pres. of the college.

She had many friends at college - from Saylorsburg, Slatiington and the coal regions. One of the girls from the coal regions - Dorothy Snyder came to visit Mom and Pop many years later. Of course Mom had her stay to eat. She was planning on having pork chops and sent me to thestore for more.

Luella also had a friend from Palmerton - Alice Mooney. I don't remember if she went to Kutztown or not but she became a teacher too. One time she and Alice dated two young state troopers. Luella's was Virgil Porter or Portor - I remember seeing his pictures - very handsome.

Life in college was very different in those days. Boys were kept separate from girls - and had more freedom. When the girls wanted sundaes they'd put a rope out their window down to the ground with money and the boys would go to town for the treats, tie them on the rope and the girls would pull the ropes back up the windows.

Lights had to be out at 10P.M. and someone would walk the halls to check if they were out. Luella said they would put or drape a blanket across a table and sit underneath and study with a flashlight. This way when the keyholes were checked they couldn't see any light.

She also had a ukulele and brought it home to play. One of the songs she'd play and sing was about a cat. I sent the words and music as best as I could to Mary Louise years ago. The words were like this:
"Anybody see my kitty, anybody see my cat?
She came home with a kink in her tail
And I know she's been flirting
Down in our alley -
Up in Finnegan's flat.
Kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty
Anybody see my cat?"

And she could dance too. I can picture her in the living room doing the Charleston. Yes that was your Mother.

One Christmas when she came home from school she told me she had a present for me. Well, I just couldn't wait till Christmas so I hunted for it...and found it too. A mirror, comb and brush set. Wasn't that nice of her? I never told her I found it.

When she had her school picture taken one of the girls gave her pearls to put on. She graduated in 1927.

Obituary from May 10, 2002 issue of Tampa Tribune

She put an application in the Palmerton School District and when Pop went to speak to the Superintendent he was told she had no experience. She had to get experience first. Pop told him how could she get experience without a job first. Regardless, she got a job in a one-room school like her classmates or some anyway. You all know this school - up above Aquashicola and was part of the R.D.2 property there. It is still there but it looks as if it had been on fire and needs work done plus paint. I remember Luella having programs in school and Pop would take us up with his car -- a Ford. We also had a family car and that was always an Oldsmobile.

The very first Teachers Institute in Mauch Chunck (now Jim Thorpe) she attended she met Stanley. It must have been love at first sight - because they didn't wait long to get married. During that year she had a miscarriage and they lived with Stanley's Mother. He taught school in Parryville and she got a job there too later. They both took summer courses at E. Stroudsburg State Teachers College. They rented a room at a private home. Mary Louise was born in the Palmerton Hospital while they lived in Parryville. When she was a tot he got a job teaching science and music in Palmerton and they moved to the 600 block on Franklin Street. Luella named Mary after the grandmothers. Mom's name is Mary Ann. Stanley's Mom is Mary Estella. She wanted them to give her Estella for the middle name but Luella chose Louise. Both Charles and Leah were born in Palmerton and by that time they lived at 449 Lafayette Ave. The name Charles was after Pop and Warren after Uncle Warren. Luella told me Stanley said she should add Daniel to Charles' name as his grandfather was named Daniel and he was a good man. But she said she didn't. I guess he liked the name Leah Jane ---although he thought Anna Mae instead of Mary Louise. He also wanted a fourth child but not your mother. I remember her talking about it.

She stayed home and raised the children. She had alot of ironing to do each week - and she did like ice cream. So she'd send Hilda to town to buy her a pint of Hershey's ice cream and boy that tasted good to her. I was just thinking, where were the 3 children, did they know about this pint of ice cream?

When Mary Louise was in Jr. or Sr. High (you know the time better than I) Luella tutored for a year then went back into full time teaching. [Mary's note: Mother did not work while I was at home. Tutoring and teaching came when I was in college.]

Moving to Allentown later on brought them closer to the church they attended and she served a term of First Reader. She had 2 gowns made. I recall one was a powder blue velvet - very nice. Very pretty.

She got perms, went to the hairdresser every week and had beautiful clothes. A beautiful lady she was.

Some more comes to mind.
She taught me to drive a car but she never taught me to park between two cars. I tried several times by myself but couldn't so I always parked where I had more space - all my life.
She also taught Verdie. Verdie was older than I and at that time you had to go to Allentown to take the Driver's Test. I went along with Luella when she took Verdie down. As Verdie was driving, Luella was going over the questions with her for the last time and Verdie drove up on the pavement. Good it was a quiet street and no one outdoors. And she did pass the test. I took my test while I was in High School. I don't know if I had to go to Allentown or not. I passed the first time due to the fact I didn't need to park between two cars - Ha Ha.

As you know Stanley directed several bands - The Parryville and Ben Salem bands[and Kunkletown]. And during that time they played at many picnics. I remember being up here with Luella at the Trachsville church picnics. Luella took me along for company to all the picnics and would always buy me a hot dog and soda. I thought that was so great.

I can still see Mom washing a beautiful yellow dress Luella had in college. I believe it was silk - Mom washed it in a solution of some sort instead of water. The skirt was in baked-in pleats and always stayed the same. Water would have ruined it.

One time your folks took me along to Philadelphia and while he went for his music lesson she and I went shopping. She told Stanley when they got to the city she needed stockings so he stopped somewhere and she bought a pair. Later she bought a pair of shoes. I can still see a table filled with shoes - or rather piled up. And guess what? I made up that very day when I grew up I was never going to allow myself to get down to having no good stockings to wear. And I never did. I always had new ones in reserve and still do.

She did come up to help me take care of Mom and I was grateful for that. She and your Dad missed each other very much and she called him every day. Mom passed on 3 weeks after putting her to Gracedale. I should have kept her because she really didn't want to go. Later Luella said when she got home and saw how Stanley was she'd never leave him that way again. He really must have missed her. Their love must have remained solid all their married life.

It's almost 7 P.M. I spent all afternoon with the letter, taking time out for supper. I know I wrote too much of things you don't want or might not be important. But I wrote as it came to me. Use what you can.
I want to go to the Great-room to watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune now. Its 7:05p.m.

All my love to you Leah, Mary and Charles (spouses too) and God bless.
Alma

Excuse all mistakes including sentence structure but I did want to do it today so you could all read it while you're down there. I won't re-read it.


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