Notes my mother made of her life

All I can remember about Uncle Ben is that he was fat and ate lard and sugar on his bread, we loved him, and he was jolly and good to us.

Notes my mother, Pearl Summers, started Jan. 1, 1986 Edmonton, Alta.

mom and dad coronation

My brother and I are twins, born at Wentworth, South Dakota on May 3, 1903. We were born at 12:00 noon, just one hour apart. My brother’s name is Glenn Henning.

My mother’s maiden name, Sophia Wuebbenhorst or Webbenhurst. My father’s name, John Johnathan Henning.

We had no brothers or sisters. My grandparents, George and Meta Wuebbenhorst lived in a small town in Wentworth, South Dakota. My father built a home just across the road from them (when first married). We lived there until we were four years old.

While here, we were happy, and took all the spoiling our grandparents could give us. We spent a lot of time at their home. My Aunt Kathryn who was then a teenager lived in their home and from all reports she gave us a good amount of discipline very often. There were also four brothers in this household – Herman, John, Ben, and Henry.

At four years old we moved to a place called Selby, South Dakota, a small town further west from Wentworth (about 200 miles).

Some stories our parents, uncles, grandparents and aunts told us.

When we were born my brother was as fair as a lily with blue eyes. I looked like a little Mexican with my dark eyes and black hair. My father was very upset and kept saying if only the girl could have been the fair one. Maybe he liked blondes; however, I turned out to be a real Dad(’s) girl. In fact, it was an ordeal to get me to bed before my Dad came home at night, even if it was very late.

Another story is told about me loving cats. I once squeezed a kitten to death when I was two years old. Incidentally my brother and I were toe heads until we were about twelve years old. Had a birthmark taken off my chin.

While still in Wentworth we visited Grandma Henning who was 80 years old, confined in bed. This visit I remember, as we were both frightened or maybe shy. Grandmother was so very nice to us. I also remember she was in traction, something wrong with her leg. She lived in state of Illinois.

Before the folks left Wentworth, Dad went to Minneapolis and took a course in Threshing Machine operation. He bought a machine and worked in and around Wentworth. He also worked in livestock, but this didn’t work out too well.

A few more things added to our early childhood.

I often heard Grandpa say, “When we die we will be judged according to what we know and understand.” He seemed a religious man. He was short and thin, a small man, I would say.

My brother and I called our grandmother “Uma” and grandfather “Opa.” Grandpa called me “Poodle”. This was his nickname for me until I grew up.

We called our grandfather “Grandpa whip the horse”. I guess we couldn’t say “Webbenhorst”. Our Grandfather had a very special talent. He could add, divide and subtract fractions in his head faster than you could write them down on paper. He had very little formal education. My Grandparents had five children – four boys and one girl. Their names are Herman, John, Ben, Charles and Kathryn.

When we were four years old we moved to Selby, South Dakota, a little town about 200(?) miles west of Wentworth. Here Dad built a little home on a farm a few miles north(?) of Selby. The house was painted white, and it had 2 bedrooms, living room and kitchen.

Before Dad built the house he built a granary which we lived in while our home was being built. The granary had a dirt floor, but Dad put down boards and pieces of rug, and we had fun climbing up a ladder to go to bed. This was all very crude, but we thought it great fun. We lived four years on this farm. These were very happy years. We had pets of every kind. We started school here. A letter following this page will explain some of the things we did.

Aunt Kathryn came out to visit, as did Uncle Ben and Grandpa. All I can remember about Uncle Ben is that he was fat and ate lard and sugar on his bread, we loved him, and he was jolly and good to us. Grandpa came several times and he put a hard dollar in our hand as he left. We felt so rich for a long time.

A Brief Outline Of Incidents That Occurred In Glenn Henning’s Early Life ….

Glenn was born in Wentworth, South Dakota on May 3, 1903. Born an hour later was his twin sister Pearl. When Glenn was four years of age the family moved to Selby, South Dakota, and lived on a farm.

Glenn was a great one for pets of all kinds. These included Bertha, the cow; a horse named Columbus; an old pet hen with no feathers on her back; a dog Fido; pigeons and rabbits.

Once he decided to have some pet flies so he dewinged them and called them “pet flies”. He got into trouble when he found some half-grown mice. When one bit him, he decided to let them stay wild. The pet funerals were quite elaborate, with a cigar box for coffins, wild flowers on the caskets, then all joined hands and sang “Ring Around the Rosy.”

A sad happening in Glenn’s life was when his brand-new red wagon was hitched to a young calf. The harness was hardly on when the calf bolted and ran like mad, causing the wagon to go into a thousand pieces.

When Glenn was about eight years old the family moved to Lake Andes, South Dakota and here Glenn found many things to make a little money after school. He shone shoes, sold papers, delivered milk, and he made and sold popcorn. He swept out the floors in the bank. When he had spare time he played baseball and skated, his favorite pasttime.

The last few summers Glenn was in Lake Andes he rented a small room in the back of a store, bought a secondhand truck and enough equipment to make homemade ice cream. This was a great success in Lake Andes and this little business grew and grew until he was shipping it to many of the neighboring towns. But his ice cream business soon had to come to a halt when he decided to become a pharmacist, so away he went to university in Des Moines, Iowa. Glenn was never known to study much but always had top marks in his studies.

After graduating he worked in Des Moines where he met the beautiful and lovely Kitty Jameson. They soon moved to Chicago where he worked in a drug store for some time, and later bought his own prescription drug store.

In time their daughter Priscilla was born. This little girl became Glenn’s pride and joy.

A few “bits and pieces” concerning Glenn:

Glenn was a good figure skater but had to give this up after a spinal fusion operation.

Anyone seeing Glenn wouldn’t need a mirror – they just had to look in Glenn’s shoes, one of his pet habits.

Glenn was a good debater in his school years.

The black bass in Lake Andes were afraid of Glenn but they couldn’t escape him. He surely got his share. This early experience as a fisherman has followed him to Florida.

More stories about going to a show ….

Seems there was a Tarring and feathering. We had to be taken out, as we howled and cried and wanted our Dad to stop hurting this man. I can remember the fear that we had. We were four years old or a little younger.

We had our first car ride when we were about 8 years old. Some friends from the town of Selby came to visit us in their new car. As they left we rode back about half a mile and then walked back.

My brother and I were always loyal to each other. No matter what happened we wouldn’t tell on each other, and often we both had a spanking when only one was guilty.

We started school past seven years old. Our first teacher was Marie Eeling. We only lived a half mile from school. Guess I must have loved her very much, because I thought all teachers went to heaven, and this I thought until I was quite a big girl.

When I see the crocus flower, I think of the fun we had finding the first flowers in the spring. The crocus would always be there early in the spring. I still remember the thrill we experienced in finding them.

Then one day Dad sold the farm and Grandpa took Glenn to his home so he could go to school, so for several months I had no one to play with. I was terribly lonesome and missed Glenn so very much. Finally we moved to Lake Andes, South Dakota.

On our way there we stopped at Wentworth, S.D. to visit a few days. When my mother and I arrived it was during school hours. Glenn took me to school where he had been going.

We just sat and looked at each other for the whole time. We exchanged secrets. One thing I remember was his new buttoned shoes. He told me that his Uncle Henry bought them. Uncle Henry gave Glenn a choice of two pairs, one lace and one button; however, Glenn said the ones he got were a little tight, but he chose them anyway. Uncle Henry wasn’t aware of the small fitting, so Glenn said “don’t tell on me,” but they hurt.

After living on the farm for four years, we moved to a small town named Lake Andes, South Dakota. Charles Mix(?) County, Lake Andes had a population of about 1000. Here Dad bought a grain elevator. Dad had it painted and in big letters had his name on it. My brother and I thought it pretty classy. Dad rented a home which we lived in a short time, then he bought a home sorta on the edge of town. We had a few chickens and a wonderful garden.

I think Dad paid $1000 cash for this house. I’m sure no one had a better garden then Dad, and he grew very special tomatoes which everyone raved about. Must have been the soil and the special care that Dad took of them. Dad went down (8 miles) to the Missouri river bottom as it was called to get small spruce trees. He planted them all around the boulevard and the north side of the house. Dad said every one of these trees grew, and before many years they were higher than the house. He did this early one spring.

Dad was a very soft spoken person and very quiet manner. The townspeople nicknamed him “honest John”. He was very well respected all his life. Dad had a very hard father. When Dad was in the fourth grade his father took him out of school to work for someone else, then took all his wages for himself. So Dad ran away from home after a few years. At 14 years old he left home. Dad and his mother were very close and I have often heard Dad say how wonderful she was, and had such a nice disposition always.

Dad took everything in his stride. An example of this was when a fire alarm in the town went off. It seemed that it was his elevator. My mother got so excited she yelled at Dad to hurry hurry. But he calmly said, “Where is my hat?” You can be sure he had his hat on before he stepped out the house, much to my mother’s upset nerves. It wasn’t his elevator that burned. About these years, in fact, every year the people of Lake Andes would arrange a picnic of several families. The main purpose was to pick fruit on the Missouri river bottom.

The food was great, everyone brought something nice. Fried chicken was the big item. Homemade ice cream was another big treat. The fruit that was picked was always in great supply, such as wild grapes, choke cherries, Buffalo berries (these were little red berries), wild plums. These were picked in wash tubs. The women made jellies, jams, juices, and yes, some made wine. No matter how many cars went out, there never was a short supply of fruit.

There also was a good supply of snakes, rattlesnakes, bull snakes, and side winders. This was something no one liked. Lake Andes had a lake about a half mile from the town. There we fished for black bass, which is a choice fish, and there was a good supply in the lake. We often had a fish dinner. Once a year we had what we called Fish Day. The town furnished free to everyone all the fried fish they could eat. This was a great day of celebrating — all kinds of people from everywhere, it seemed, many stands, parade, etc.

When I was sixteen years old, I had smallpox, and I had it on Fish Day. I wanted so badly to go downtown, but of course couldn’t as my face was all scabbed. Then too, I wouldn’t expose the people, as I was still in the catching stage. I was old enough to know not to scratch so wasn’t marked with pock marks. I still remember how they itched, and was afraid to go to sleep, less I scratched in my sleep. I was very sick the first three days, but after that I wasn’t sick but had to stay in quarantine for 3 weeks. Glenn had smallpox before I did, but he wasn’t very sick. Then we all had that awful flu, and somehow we lived through it. It was the 1914 flu. Many many people died in our little town. Our local medical doctor got so run down from working night and day that, when he got it, he died in a few days after coming down with it.

Glenn and I went through grade and high school in Lake Andes. We both played basketball. Our girls team was a super team. We even played normal schools and we never lost a game to high schools or normals. I played all four years and just loved it. I was chosen Captain for the last year.

Bobbed hair was coming in fashion about this time, so one night before an important game we all decided to bob our hair, so we went to the local barber and he bobbed all our hair. I got into serious trouble with my parents for doing this. Dad bought an Elgen Car, second hand. I suppose he was 45 years old and somehow an awful driver; however, he drove to Lakefield, Minn., which was about four or five hundred miles, and then he drove to Chicago a couple times. He got along fine even in busy Chicago. Dad had a brother in Lakefield, and my brother Glenn lived in Chicago. We were teenagers at this time, and probably a bit critical on Dad’s driving. Dad’s business was very good at this time, then something happened to the banks. Anyway, they went broke, and Dad lost everything he had, but as time went on he got it back. It was a bad scare for awhile.

We graduated from high school. Glenn went to Des Moines to take up pharmacy. Here he graduated at the top of his class. Out of twenty-three in his class, only six even graduated. After graduating he worked in Des Moines for awhile and then on to Chicago. Here he worked for a short time, had a chance to buy a drug store, then borrowed money from Dad, and paid it back in a little while.

He had several drug stores, really made all kinds of money. He didn’t have regular drug stores, but had prescription stores only. While working in one of his stores he was robbed. Two black men came in and made him lie down face down while they held a gun on him. Bill his partner was in the back room, and he wasn’t aware of what was going on; however, he dropped something and the noise frightened the hold-up men. Glenn was lucky to be alive. A short time after this Glenn developed an ulcer. Kitty is sure that the hold-up started this problem.

Glenn retired early, bought a nice home in OakLawn(?), a suburb of Chicago, and he and Kitty have gone to Florida every winter for 18 years.

There are more details of Glenn’s life on his Golden Wedding –

I went to Minneapolis to De Gille Beauty School, much against my parents’ wishes. My mother was in a nervous state about this time, guess she couldn’t get used to us leaving home. I look back now and realize she was lonesome. Dad was a very quiet man, and neither had any interests other than work.

My mother became very neurotic, and seemed to develop every kind of sickness that there was. Spent her time seeing doctors and in and out of hospitals. Dad had it really rough. Nothing seemed to help her. She even went through the famous Mayo Clinic, but nothing helped.

Mother just went to bed and stayed there for years and years. After my 6 month’s course from school, I got a good job in International Falls, Minn. I had charge of a small shop in a department store after working there only 3 months. A town called Fort Francis, Ontario was across the bridge from Int. Falls and Fort Francis. I was offered a job there, so I took it, as they offered me $40.00 a week to come over there.

It was a $15.00 increase to what I was getting. I then worked at Fort Francis, Ont. for a year, but had a chance to buy the shop, so Dad gave me $800.00 cash. The woman that owned the shop was a very poor operator and couldn’t make a go of it, and by this time I had good experience with that, and I made good money.

Permanent(?) waves were just getting popular so I went to Minneapolis and took a special course on per. Waving. I worked long hours and got $15 per wave and often did 4 in a day and sometimes 5 if I worked nights.

About this time I hired a nice Icelandic girl to work for me. Her name, Lillian LaBelle (married name). We got along very well. Now there was an immigration law, that forbid Americans from working in Canada without being legally admitted into Canada. The lady I bought the shop from was a friend of the immigration officer, so I had no trouble being legally admitted to Canada. I worked for awhile in Fort Francis and lived in International Falls. I had to walk across a long bridge, which took me about 20 minutes.

I was about 23(?) years old and decided to get married to Floyd Johnson. His family lived in Long Prairie, Minn. His brothers and sister-in-laws, and mother and father were very nice, but Floyd had a drinking problem which I was aware of, so I refused to marry him because of his drinking. Floyd promised to quit drinking, and to my knowledge he quit for 6 months; however, as soon as we got married I realized I had been fooled.

His drinking was really bad, as the story goes he wasn’t really on the wagon. This went on for 1½ years, then I got a divorce without any trouble. However, he wasn’t going to give me a divorce. His family came up from Grand Prairie, Minn. several times and pleaded with me to give him another chance, but it was plain to see he was an alcoholic. He died about two years after this. When we were first married, I bought a German Shepherd dog, 9 months old. He was the greatest dog that ever lived – smart, gentle and everything nice. His name was Skeego Von Inslstadt. During these years I had a good friend, Malinda Thompson. We called her Tommy, she was beautiful and clever. We had a nice long friendship and many good times. Somehow we lost track of each other.

After my divorce, I bought a Ford Coupe. I think I paid about $1100 for it. After the divorce I stayed in Fort Francis about a year or so, then decided to leave, sold my shop, and through a Winnipeg Manager, got a job in Edmonton.

I worked for a company called “Paristyle Novelty”, a Jewish firm from New York. They were a Concession in beauty parlors all down the south coast of U.S.A., and had all the beauty parlors in Canada of the Hudson Bay department stores. They were a chain of beauty parlors. I was hired as Manager of HBC Beauty Parlor in Edmonton. This was 1931, in the deepest part of the depression of 1929. I got $40 a week plus commission on cosmetics that were sold.

I always drove my own car. In fact, I had four cars before I married Jack. I had a wonderful trip to Honolulu for three weeks, stayed in the Maui hotel right on Waik(?) beach. This was about 1936. I met many nice people. The trip cost me $400.00 fare; however, before leaving on this trip, I spent a fair amount on special clothes. Had a Madam Sylvester, a designer, make several nice things for me.

The car that I bought in Edmonton when I first got here was a 1931 Model A sports roadster with a rumble seat for my beautiful dog Skeego. The car was wine colored and I paid $1000 for it. As soon as I arrived in Edmonton, I put Skeego in a kennel, as I lived in the Corona Hotel the first month or so. I soon found a boarding and rooming place where I could keep my dog.

My landlady was very English. She cooked and served her meals differently than I was accustomed to. One thing I remember that her dinner plates were very large, and knives and forks were larger than I had ever seen. Then she called a beef roast a joint(?).

I met Doris Calhoun about this time. She lived in a big beautiful home. Her father owned the King Edward Hotel. We became great friends. She was going to University, taking Home Ec. Doris, Skeego and I spent all our free time in the car. Doris often drove my car when I was working. One day a customer came in and said, “I saw the Calhoun girl driving a red roadster with a beautiful Police dog in the rumble seat.”

Doris and I had a good laugh and don’t think the customer ever found out who the dog and car belonged to. Doris and I often went horseback riding. We rode from the Greennig’s(?) stable. Some of the girls from my department would go, too. We had lots of fun.

I lived in a home of Mrs. Schaal, daughter of Dorita Gilmare. Mrs. Schaal was a widow. She had one daughter, Doreta and one son Jack Housey. They came from England. The family was fond of dogs, and I had to stay where my beloved Skeego was welcome.

This is where I met Jack. This was a fun household. Doris and I were together all of the time when I wasn’t working. Jack and I really didn’t go together. He was working at Clarke’s Lumber yard and when fall came, he started university in the dental school. I worked long hard hours in my department. There was a big upset in my dept. as one of the girls thought she should have had my job.

Her name, Miss Wieldon(?). I was 27 years old at this time. Anyway this angry woman got four of the girls to walk out and work for her in a shop she bought; however, there was only one of these gals that I would have kept, which of course they never knew.

I then had only three operators and one barber as a starting point. Now before long I hired more operators and a second barber. Our department grew and grew, had 14 permanent staff. Business was really good and we had such wonderful harmony amongst all of us, just like a big family.

After seven years I was transferred to Winnipeg, Manitoba. There had been a big upset in this department. Everyone had been fighting. It was very hard to manage after the Edmonton department which I had built up from 3 operators in seven years.

Our Favorites

Picture of jaron


Jaron Summers wrote dozens of primetime television and radio programs, including those for HBO, CBS, ACCESS TV and CBC. He conceived the TV and Film Institute of Canada. Funded by the University of Alberta and ITV, Jaron ran the Institute for 12 years, donating his services for a decade.

1 Trackback

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read More

Wacky tales

Mob Rule

You know, talking to friends and colleagues about rumors and happenings. Meaningless babble. Apparently we are hard-wired to stand around

Wacky tales

How to Paint A Bathroom

My wife Kate has this hormone imbalance thing. A lot of women do. One learns to live with it.



Long Friendship Secrets

I keep a journal since it’s fun to see what I did ten or twenty or thirty years ago. When

Wacky tales

Roof Rat

Notes from the homeowner –

I heard scratching noises above the ceiling tiles.

The roof rat was back. There was