Emma Hockemeyer Twelker family after her death
Mother revealed how she and the family felt about Mama's death to me after her Joe's death. In her reminiscences she told how every Sunday morning it was the family's custom to go over the week's Sunday School lessons for all the family. Then they had family prayers. Papa included prayers for the memory of Mama. Mother said that he would often break down and cry that he missed her so. I think that she didn't tell us about this before because she herself had to struggle with the difficult memories of this period in her life.
There is a another incident that illustrates the attitude the family had about perseverance. Mother had a perfect attendance record in her eighth grade year. On the last day of school, she went home at noon time so Marie could fit the graduation dress. Mother did not like to stand in one place very long, and she became faint. Marie would not let her return that day. This upset Mother and she would tell me about it over and over if she had to stand for any length of time. "I can't stand very long. I can walk forever, but if I stand in one place, I become faint. -- Did I ever tell you about how I fainted when Marie was making my graduation dress?----." I think the missing of school for that one afternoon as well as the fainting experience made a lasting impression upon her. She had broken two very strict moral codes:
Marie was a particularly skilled seamstress. Both Marie and Lilly were very fashion conscious. According to Mother, the thing to have was an eighteen inch waist. I can't say whether they achieved this goal but these two young women as seen in the golden anniversary picture look very smart and nipped in. Most of the children's clothes were sewn at home, and very well at that.
German was spoken in the J. C. Twelker home. Momma, Papa and the older children spoke German, but the older children became embarrassed because they couldn't speak English well at school and they were teased by the other pupils. Mother's parents decided that they didn't want their children to be made fun of, and from then on they spoke only English with the children.
Mother regretted that her older brothers and sisters could speak German while she missed out on the opportunity to be bilingual. She attended a German Methodist Sunday School for a short while and still remembers a little song "Last die Sonne Ein"--Let the Sun Shine In". They also knew a blessing in German.
Kommt Herr Jesu,|
sei user Gast,und
segne uns und alles
was Du uns aus
Gnaden bescherert hast.
Come Lord Jesus,|
be our guest, and
bless us and all
that to us by your grace.
has been given.
Mother attended San Diego High School and later San Diego State Normal School. Lilly was a bookkeeper, secretary as well as keeper of the family home.
Marie was employed as a companion for one of the Scripps family. (The newspaper publisher's family). According to Edgar, it was his understanding that Marie also assumed a motherly role for the younger brothers and sisters, and was much beloved by them.
Ed was employed as a personal secretary for "Old Man Scripps" (James E. Scripps, the founder of the Scripps Newspaper chain). The other boys attended school or worked at various jobs away from home during the week.
Elsie would later work for the Scripps family also. You will find more about the Scripps connection later on this page.
She was very active in church work. In San Diego she belonged to the Christian Endeavor and took part in their conferences at college campuses. ( I believe she was a charter member of the Presbyterian Church in Pasadena.)
I, myself, did not really appreciate her until she retired and visited with our family. I was in college and her stays were rather lengthy. It was then that she told about her responsibilities with the company she worked for. I was impressed at this whole different aspect of her. Up to then I had only seen her as the maiden aunt who had stayed at home to look after her aging father.
Earlier, on the two trips our family made to San Diego, she looked overweight and her personality did not make much of an impression on me. I was expected to give her a Christmas present, and had to write her a thank you letter for the birthday or Christmas cards I received from her.
It was a gradual warming that took place after those times at our house. All those years of having been the family manager showed in a no nonsense attitude to the youthful failings of Martha and me. John and Joey were no longer living at home and escaped her critical eye. One time she was helping Mother by doing some ironing. She had a fit when she came upon one of my brassieres that I had repaired by sewing with white thread on top and dark green thread on the bobbin of the sewing machine. She had the good sense not to try to discipline me, but she brought it to Mother's attention very emphatically.
Mother was redecorating our house, now that we children weren't so destructive and the finances weren't so tight. Aunt Lilly offered to make needle point seat covers for the new dining room chairs. These chairs are still in our family and represent a labor of love from Aunt Lilly.
Esther graduated from St. Louis' Central High School in January, 1914. She attended the senior dance where the principal wouldn't let them "dance the new dances--just the old stuff-- waltzes and two steps". They also danced a circle two step. At that time, each attendee danced with a number of partners, which Esther has listed in her book. She describes her graduation presents and her graduation dress. Because of what they reveal of the times and of the care expressed, I have made a complete quotation from those pages.
My first presents arrived at Christmas from California. What a joy that box was! The loveliest embroidered slip from Lilly, another embroidered article from Elsie, white gloves silk stockings from Marie, a red silk middy tie from Wilbur, and Money from Ed. Anne put her presents in the box too, a green cut leather bag with a little purse to match.* Anne & Carol Hibler: Esther stayed with their family to finish her Senior year.
Lilly, Marie, Ed and Wilbur gave me a lavaliere, set with a cameo. Anne and Carol* gave me my graduation dress.
Mrs. Ware, my Sunday School teacher gave me a little gold pin with pink coral set in.
Leta gave me the prettiest circle pin, silver set with pearls and emeralds, alternately. I think a great deal of it, because of the giver. (Wonder if she'll ever read that?)
Ruth Du Hadway came down to the station to see me off to California and gave me a silver nail file.
Ed. note: Neatly folded into the pages was a sample of the lace and the messaline. (Messaline--a thin soft white silk cloth with a surface like satin. Thorndike-Barnhart Dictionary)
My graduation dress was made of shadow lace over white mesealine. It was made very simply, its trimming being yellow rosebuds, and a girdle made of mesealine, with a buckle entwined with the buds.
MY GRADUATION DRESS by: Esther Twelker
The waist was a draped effect, the shadow lace drawn over the shoulders and crossed in the front. The sleeves were dropped from the shoulders about four inches, and a narrow edging of the lace set on. They were caught up with the rose buds.
The skirt was made of two lengths of the shadow lace and caught up with buckles made of mesealine and the rosebuds. It was quite long.
The rest of my attire was as follows: I wore a beautifully embroidered princess slip which Lilly gave me as a Christmas present. It was scalloped around the neck, sleeves and bottom, with a lace edging set on. The top had an embroidery design of little flowers something like forget-me-nots; it was shaped with rows of insertions set in. The bottom of the flounce was also fixed in the same way on both sides. There certainly was a great deal of work on it.
I wore black silk stockings and black satin colonial slippers. My only ornament was the lavaliere which Lilly, Marie, Ed and Wilbur gave me. I wore my hair parted in the middle, drawn back in a simple knot.
All the graduates (girls only) carried flowers. They were yellow carnations arranged in a sheath effect. White ribbon hung down from them, to the ends of which were attached white sweet peas and fern. Two rosettes of yellow ribboned chiffon hung down, making a shower effect.
The girls all wore long white gloves, either kid or silk. Mine were of silk.
In 1926 Esther left for Siam to teach in the Presbyterian Mission School in Bangkok. Her only tool was a teach yourself foreign language book that was published for missionaries who would not have English speakers to help them. It was a generic language book, that explained how to build a vocabulary and phrases through a structure of lessons pantomiming the story of Jesus at the well!
Whenever she came home for the mandatory one year of rest after five years in the tropical climate, she had many interesting tales. Not only of Siam (later Thailand, meaning land of the free), but of the places she had visited while abroad. She usually had one or two trunks with gifts. When she opened those trunks with their silks, linens, pictures and toys bought with each one of us especially in mind. It was like the return of Marco Polo.
The day before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, they invaded Thailand. Aunt Esther was imprisoned in an internment camp along with the other American and Britishers who were in Bangkok. Although they were not treated badly, it was still an ordeal. The food was bad--when they complained that there were worms in the spinach, it was served chopped after that. They were allowed to have visitors, but only to talk with them through the wire fencing around the compound. However their Thai friends did bring them fresh fruits to supplement the diet of rice and chopped vegetables. This regimen affected her health--particularly the lack of vitamin B. Some of the frailties in her old age can be traced to this experience.
After a year, there was an exchange of diplomatic prisoners and Aunt Esther came home. The ship that brought them back to the U.S. was the Swedish liner SS Gripsholm. As this was the first exchange, those who were on this voyage belonged to a special group. "Oh you were repatriated on the Gripsholm? Did you know So and So, he was on that ship?"
During the war years Esther lived with us while attending San Jose State College. She completed her AB degree in Educational Administration. It was hard on us children to have our aunt living with us for so long. She treated us like one of the family and saw her role as Mother's assistant. We had to treat her as a guest in our home--an awkward situation.
After Esther graduated, she got a job with the Office of War Information in San Francisco. She translated Voice of America Scripts into Thai. She donated many of her photographs to the Army to be used as informational sources in case there would be an invasion of Thailand by the U.S. Because of this, we only have a few of the pictures that she took in her prewar years there.
Following the war, the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions realized they had been remiss in not training the converts to assume leadership roles in their own communities. It was Aunt Esther's assignment to not only be principal of Wattana Witta Academy in Bangkok, but also to select potential replacement teachers. It was expected that the American teachers would be replaced by Thais as they became trained. Candidates were sent to U.S. colleges for training. When Aunt Esther retired after 35 years of service, she turned the principalship over to her Thai protégé. She received many accolades for her work there, including one from the Thai government.
One of Esther's retirement gifts was a silver tea set from the faculty of the academy. It consisted of about six beautifully hand hammered and engraved pieces. After her death it was given to Uncle Walter and Aunt Fern. She also left some pieces of jewelry and silver bowls to various family members, and Phyllis got the beautiful, carved teakwood chest -- the Marco Polo remembrance.
Both Ed and Marie worked for the Scripps family--Ed as a private secretary to Mr. James E. Scripps, the founder of the Scrips newspaper empire. Mother and the other members of the family referred to him as "Old Man Scripps". Marie was employed as a companion to one of the Scripps women. She lived at the ranch.
This ranch was a huge complex in the tradition of the early California Ranchos. There was the main house built around a large central court yard. The wings of the house formed an open "O" shape--the opening being large enough for a wide drive or walkway to enter the court from the entry boulevard. There were numerous outbuildings including a virtual village for the ranch workers.
When I was in my teens, I wanted nothing more than to have a horse. Oh, how I envied the life Marie led when I saw the pictures of her up on those beautiful gaited horses!
Mother (Elsie) and her friends frequently hiked out at the ranch as well as picnicking near the beach house, Wisteria Cottage. It was labeled "at Miramar" in Mother's album. However, Edgar informs me that Miramar was about fifteen miles inland on the route from San Diego to Escondido. As the picture is dated 1913, I'll chalk it up to Mother's lack of familiarity with her surroundings at the time. I am sure the location is properly La Jolla, as La Jolla featured frequently in Mother's conversations.
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography was well established during this period.
The Scripps family had all the accouterments of a successful newspaper magnate: gardener, children's nurse, house keeper, cook, as well as the summer tutor. Mother learned to cook egg plant from the Japanese cook. She really liked it the way he prepared it and asked him for the recipe. "Oh, I just fix eeeasy way". When pressed for more particulars, he again replied, "I just fix eeeasy way." When Mother told the nurse about his response, she said in disgust, "Yeah, he does everything the eeeasy way"*
*Egg plant The "EEEasy Way"|
(as Mother fixed it in our house)
|Mother thought it was a good way to prepare this vegetable, but she maintained the Japanese cook did it better than she could ever make it.|
When they were at the La Jolla house, Mother enjoyed surf fishing or fishing off the pier. Her brother Walter also fished from the La Jolla Pier. One evening Walter and a friend were catching crabs when they were accosted by a watchman who demanded to see what they had in their bucket. The boys didn't know if it was legal or not to have these crabs, so they pulled their caps down to their eyes and hunched down to their turned up collars to appear as much like Japanese or Chinese emigrants as possible. "Verrry strange fish--never see such strannnnge fish." They got away with the crabs, but no one knows if they fooled the watchman or not.
I was startled to see the pictures of very proper Aunt Esther acting silly, wearing the soldier's helmets with her "Bunch". Many of her friends were from State Normal School in San Diego and Occidental College. In 1924 she received her teaching certificate. Before leaving for Siam, she taught in a one room country school in San Diego County.
I had seen sense of dedication and her gentle humor, but had not thought of her in terms of a young woman with boy friends and being silly. Of course if one thinks about it, there had to be a lively spirit to face the adventures of going to a strange land, learning a new language and staying in the mission field with all its hardships for so many years.
One of the famous personalities who came to San Diego was the German born singer, Madame Schuman-Heink. She had one son in the German army and another in the American army. Both were killed in action.
She performed at endless bond rallies and she encouraged the public to emulate her in making sacrifices for "the war to end wars". She popularized the Christmas carol "Silent Night". Although at that time German had been discontinued as a foreign language in high school curricula, and speaking German was considered unpatriotic, Madame Schuman-Heink always sang this carol in German; and there were few who heard her who didn't shed tears.
After the war, President Wilson made a cross continent tour to drum up support for his League of Nations vision. Mother attended the rally in the football stadium at San Diego Normal School. She was thrilled to be able to be so close to the president. She took the small snap shot; the larger pictures were post cards celebrating the event. Without radio or television it was an exciting rarity to be able to see famous personages as close as this.
Once Uncle Vernon visited us, and impressed me because he could walk on his hands. He enjoyed physical fitness activites. Dad and he had a bet going that if Vernon would lift our calf every day, that by the time the calf was grown, he would be able to lift a cow. The bets were called off because Uncle Vernon couldn't stay long enough to prove it.
When I was about four or five years old, we made a trip to San Diego in our 1926 Overland car for Christmas and stayed with Aunt Lilly and Granddaddy Twelker (John Christopher). On the way home we stopped off in Ventura at Uncle Walter's. He had rigged his own telephone line out to a work shop in his back yard. He took us to a movie that had an animated cartoon of skeletons dancing to "Dance Macabre". When one of the skeletons jumped out at the screen, John jumped out of his seat. We thought that was the funniest part.
One year Grandaddy Twelker came up to visit us at the ranch. (There is an older woman in the picture, but I don't remember her being there at all, nor who she is). I do remember Grandaddy putting in the board sidewalk from the back door around to the cellar and fixing the cellar steps and making a new cellar door. He also built us children a wonderful trapeze-bars-swing set. According to Joey, he built it in San Diego during our visit there and then had it disassembled and shipped to Hollister. We made sure that it was taken with us every time we moved as there was no such thing as a jungle gym set in those days; we were the only kids who had such a neat apparatus.
Lilly suffered from severe osteoporosis when she was in her late 7-'s or early 80's. As a result she had numerous small fractures of her vertebrae. She was in considerable pain and on pain medication. Her last days were spent in a convalescent hospital. A letter to Mother from either her friend Lois Smith or Aunt Gwen mentions that on some visits, Lilly would ask, "What's happening to me?" As far as I know her mind was as sharp as could be expected under the circumstances.
Esther's years in the orient took their toll on her health.
When Esther returned to the U.S. after her internment by the Japanese, her hair was quite grey. Her doctor told her it was the result of a diet lacking in certain vitamins. She had some type of digestive trouble that she took medication for. Mother commented that she "ate like a horse but did not put on weight". Even before she retired she was bent over and somewhat bowlegged. (osteoporosis??)
She had her own apartment in Pasadena for a while until it became too difficult for her to do her own cooking and housekeeping.
During this time, her memory was failing badly. It upset her to have this called to her attention. On several occasions, she broke into tears when Mother reminded her of something that should have been remembered. On a visit to Nevada City, she was put up at a motel as there weren't beds for us all at Martha's. When it was time to leave for San Jose, Esther accused the motel management of stealing her suit case. She made quite a fuss about it and we searched everywhere. When we got back to San Jose, it was in the guest room--she had decided she only needed an overnight bag and had left it home empty.
Eventually she was moved to a rest home as she had become bed ridden. Gwen and Wilbur kept tabs on Aunt Esther after her retirement and visited her often in the rest home. Some days Esther was quite lucid, but mostly she did not recognize Gwen nor Wilbur nor react to the fruit or other gifts that were brought to her. (Alzheimer's??) Aunt Gwen faithfully reported to Mother about Aunt Esther's condition and her care. With her home business of Christmas card sales, Aunt Gwen's annual letter was usually on one of her lovely cards. Ed Twelker and perhaps other relatives bought their Christmas cards from Gwen for many years.
Uncle Vernon also had memory problems. He walked out of some type of rest home facility in Riverside County and was lost for a while. Aunt Ardath not only contacted the police missing persons bureau, but had articles put in newspapers and had hand bills printed and posted in shopping centers. Uncle Vernon was finally located in a hospital in Los Angeles County. He had been hiking along the Pasadena Freeway when he was picked up by a motorist. Vernon evidently intended to hike home. As he had been a postman most of his life, the idea of hiking to San Diego didn't daunt him physically. He was badly dehydrated and disoriented so the motorist-Samaritan took him to the nearest hospital.
There he was asked his name, address and other simple questions, which he couldn't answer, so he was admitted as an indigent patient. After several days one of the nurses handed him a note pad, and he was able to write his name and Ardeth was contacted. (Alzheimer's disease??)
When I saw Uncle Wilbur shortly after he turned 90. He was still vigorous and seemed to be quite sharp. But he declined rapidly after that time and became difficult to manage due to changes of personality. His son Bill said it was Alzheimer's disease.
Mother had memory problems that started when she was in her early sixties. She realized that her short term memory was failing and functioned very well for years by writing notes to herself. She drove some of us younger folks wild by continually repeating things. She would tell us again and again about how she "loosing her mind". Then she would tell how each morning she would cut the date-strip from the paper and set it on her breakfast room table. She had led such on organized and structured life, that if she knew what day it was she knew what things she had to do.
This ability stood her in good stead for about thirteen years after Dad died. She got her bills paid, went to her meetings, cleaned the house, prepared her meals and functioned quite well.
A neat device she used for grocery shopping was to prepare a shopping list that contained all the usual meal staples for the day. Then before she left the house, she went through her refrigerator and cupboards and if she had enough of the individual items, she made a note of that on the list: "Two slices bread, I have a half a bottle of milk..." This way when she got to the store, she knew that she had actually checked those supplies.
However she soon began to loose the energy to keep up her house or her personal hygiene. It was time for her to move to a small private rest home.
Her physical examinations showed no heart or other major health difficulties. The last two doctors that examined her stated she did not have Alzheimer's disease, that she had loss of memory due to arterial sclerosis in the brain. They said that the long decline and the lack of any changes in her personality were what ruled out Alzheimer's. However from what I have read about the disease, it cannot be definitely ruled out without a postmortem examination of the brain tissues. I told the doctors that it didn't make much difference what it was called.
Mother had a typical 88 year old's hip fracture. She never really recovered her energy and lively spirit after that. She frequently stated throughout her life that she did not want to be "kept alive", but she wanted to live as long as she could be of service to others.
When I mentioned to Martha that the last two or three years did not live up to Mother's wishes, unless one could consider providing nurses with a job. Martha disagreed, "Mother didn't just provide the staff with a job, her graciousness and uncomplaining attitude and her fabulous memory for poetry, songs and hymns made an otherwise difficult job easier and interesting for them."
The last birthday gathering in her honor was at my house when she was 87. Martha and Tom, John, Martha's daughter Ruthie, son Steven and of course Frithjof, Carl and myself were there.
John brought down a tape recorder and I got out Mother's old faithful "English Poetry, Its Principles and Practices". I asked Mother if she would read to us the Vision of Sir Launfal by James Russell Lowell. When I handed Mother the book opened to the poem, she took a look at the opening page, then looked up and began her recitation just as she had done so many times as a Christmas program speaker.
The only time she would look at the book was when she got to several passages that she often edited out, or to just touch bases with her prompts. Her voice was frail but, except for one place where she got hung up almost like a broken record, she recited the whole ten page work.
Martha's Steven and I took her up to Sandpoint to live in a rest home near Martha and Joey. It was about a ten hour journey with airport transfers and the car trips at either end. When we finally got to the rest home, I expected her to be ready for a long nap. Jokingly I asked if she wanted to ride around some more. "Why that would be fine."!
The next day, we wheeled her out to the front garden area. She pointed up at the flag that was lazily waving in the breeze, cleared her throat and with what was left of her voice scratchily sang "Hats Off to the Red White and Blue".
Those last months in the rest homes in San Jose, she recognized Frithjof and Carl and me. John came down and she recognized him. Up at Sandpoint she recognized Joey, but she never really knew who Martha was. This is a puzzlement to me because Martha was always close to Mother as "Mother's little helper".
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