Thickening the plot

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

My sister Vera was born in 1896. Mom had experienced a premature birth earlier. She had attended a social gathering in the evening, probably following a busy day, so fatigue may have had something to do with it. However, she blamed it on her corset. In those days a woman who appeared in public obviously pregnant was considered somewhat obscene so most of them laced as much as they dared. At any rate, the child aborted shortly after she returned from the party and Mom swore off corsets during pregnancy from then on. She lost another child due to illness between Elva and myself, which explains the five-year gap.

I don’t remember much about their early years in Iowa. I think they spent one winter in Estherville, Iowa — present population over 8,000 — and I think he worked on the railroad as a section hand. I remember him telling about having to climb a high steel tower with a kerosene signal lamp. He did it regularly for a time and it must have taken all the courage that he possessed for he always dreaded heights. Either before or after this, he spent a while in Minnesota. Their residence in Minnesota was near Alpha. Estherville is just south of the Minnesota border. He also mentioned Emmetsburg about 30 miles south of Estherville. There was a Story City that figured in his life in some fashion, west of where he grew up. It may have been a place where he remembered buying some moonshine whiskey! There was such a place that he told about where an odd looking old jigger had a basement full of jugs. Portions of Iowa were ‘dry’ in those days by local option.


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