Sunday, February 22, 2009

Recalling Military Memories

Note: Dad asked me to resurrect this post that he submitted to a blog focusing on the Margheim Family so he could offer his readers another story from his past. He thought it would be nice to take a break from posting only hospital-related news! By the way, he said today they're taking real good care of him at Parkiew Medical Center and he's healing nicely.--Becky Jamison

I bet a lot of our generation of Volga German descendants wish a greater effort would have been made to record stories of our parents' and grandparents' experiences. Not only of the immigration and USA adaptation, but how it was in the old country of Russia.

My Mom’s dad, George Koleber, served in the White Russian Army. Now that would have been interesting to learn of the details regarding Red Russian Army vs. White Russian Army. I had a conversation with one of the auditors at the meat packing plant who was from Wichita, He told me his Grandfather also served in the White Russian Army. So there must have been a decided difference. I remember talk of the ruthlessness of the Bolsheviks. And as I told you before, I remember Grandpa Koleber reading a letter (in German) from his relatives in Russia saying they were starving in the early and mid 1920s. Apparently the Bolsheviks permitted our people to send mail to the USA. I looked up Bolshevik in the Webster Dictionary and it includes the comment it was a faction of government that formed the Communist Party in 1917. Mom’s folks came over in 1904, so probably they experienced living during that political turmoil. It is a wonder they even permitted the Volga Germans to leave, from what we know of the Russians during the Berlin Wall.

Growing up during the 1930s and 40s, heritage of family was the last thing on my mind. Visiting with others now, I understand that some of our immigrants did not want to talk about the subject. It was treated much like the WWII combat Vets who do not want to open old wounds and memories of their horrible experiences. I know I still had realistic nightmares ten and fifteen years after my discharge. Phyllis, my wife, had to wake me up, and I was wet with sweat.

For Several years after I came home, the sight or mention of SNOW took me back to the Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg and Belgium Dec 1944 to Feb 1945. I shall never, never forget the body parts and blood stained snow. I could hardly sleep at the time. My lips were swollen, crusty with scabs from biting them to bleeding in my sleep.
I had to tell our officers that I could not continue to be their interpretor, for telling folks they had to evacuate their homes so our officers could use them for billets, upset me. One such house already had 30/35 occupants, (most homes in the small town had been bombed out) and one lady just had a baby that night when I went in the house to tell them "HERR-ROUSE" (Evacuate). They took me to the upstairs room where the mother lay on a blanket on the floor with her newborn infant. How inhumane can you get to force someone like that into the streets. (Our CO consented to let them stay). With my experiences in talking to those folks, they explained how they were not Nazi, that they were part of the underground that helped our downed Air Force personnel get back to Britton. They talked the same language I spoke, how could I not believe them. Speak about “Unser Lueit.” I lived the exposure.
Well, you know Ernie. Get me started and I don’t run out of words. My fingers just keep clipping away at these keys as though my brains were in my finger tips.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Glad I'm Out of ICU!

Note: This is an update on Ernie's hospital experience written by his daughter Becky during his absence from the computer.
OoooooWeeeee! Ernie was cranky this afternoon when I arrived in his room. And who can blame him! The previous 24 hours were his first in an Intensive Care Unit and he didn't like it at all! I just hope I can stay out of an ICU until I'm 87 years old! He said the staff was in his room every hour, poking, measuring, taking readings, talking, and disturbing him! And he couldn't even reach for anything without pulling hundreds of tubes that were hooked to him from all sides. Tubes everywhere!! I asked him what he was reaching for!?????
I told him that's why they call it "Instensive Care Unit". They watch every little movement around the clock. By 2:00 this afternoon he was exhausted and cranky and ready to just be left alone back in his private room. He's so lucky to be in a private room!
Dad's mood changed when I got in his room and after two hours had passed and I was ready to come home, he was sleeping peacefully. While there I read him the many comments you dear friends have left on his Facebook wall, his blog, and on my personal "Gramma's House" blog as I've written about Dad. He calmed down, then relaxed, listened intently and started laughing. Besides all the prayers and good wishes you've offered, you've once again blessed him with your support, encouragement, and caring. It's a wonderful gift. He's just tickled.
I asked Ernie if there was anything he'd like me to write on his behalf and he said he wasn't feeling very creative today. But then he added that he was finally relaxing. I told him how many hundreds of prayers were offered up in his behalf yesterday and he said he prayed mighty hard before the surgery too! What a brave man. I think how hard it must be to be 87, widowed for 12 years, with most of your peers and fellow businessmen already gone, your family grown, and experiencing something like major surgery for the first time in your life. God has blessed Ernie with strong faith, obviously great courage (I think, anyway!) and a strong body. And HE's blessed us with Ernie!

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Didn't Die?

That was the question Ernie asked when he awoke after his arterial bypass surgery this morning. The doctor said he's a strong man, but the good medical staff and all your prayers played a significant part I'm sure. Today's report is posted here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thank you Wendy Littrell at All My Branches Genealogy

Note from Becky Jamison: During Ernie's hospitalization I'm tending to Dad's blog and on his behalf, I thank Wendy Littrell at All My Branches Genealogy for awardng Ernie this Kreativ Blogger Award! I spoke to him on the phone this evening and told him of the award. He chuckled. This is all new to him and he's delighted. Since Dad's a patient at Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colorado, he's not able to review the other bloggers to see who's received the award and see with whom he wants to share this award.
I wish I could hook up a laptop computer for Dad in the hospital. But he's currently lying flat--very flat--in his bed with his legs elevated above his head. In fact his sinuses are getting clogged because his head's been almost inverted since Monday! Poor man! He's getting excellent medical care and he's quite delighted about that. Besides all the attention he's receiving, he's pleased to witness good communication among the hospital staff, constant observation by several doctors and efficiency from his nurses and CNAs. In the last 2 days he's been examined by a cardiologist, orthopedic doctor, foot specialist and his own thoracic surgeon. I was going to visit him personally tonight but he called at noon and told me he'd be involved in a test (dye through the arteries) from 1-9 pm and not available to visit. As it turned out he was returned to his room at 4 pm to continue lying motionless until 9 pm. He is ordered to not even cough or clear his throat! And yet he's in good spirits, was chuckling and listening intently to all the messages I was passing on with good wishes, offers of prayer and concern he's been receiving from you--his blogging friends!
I'll visit him personally tomorrow evening and he'll undergo arterial bypass surgery sometime Friday on his right leg calf. We pray that God will keep him strong through the surgery and restore good blood flow to that leg, so he can KEEP his leg!
I'll post another update tomorrow night. Thank you all for your prayers, good wishes and kind words. They are truly making a difference for Ernie! His address is in the post below, if you'd like to send him a card. Or email me at He's widowed and my brother lives in El Paso, TX. Dad lives in Canon City but is hospitalized an hour away in downtown Pueblo, CO, so he doesn't get visitors except when I'm able to be there. He doesn't complain---he'll tell you he's just grateful to be alive.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ernie's Update and Address

This is a duplicate post by Ernie's daughter Becky Jamison from her personal blog "Gramma's House".

I want to thank the many friends who've asked about my Dad, Ernie Margheim, as he's entered the hospital in preparation of arterial bypass surgery on his lower right leg. Thank you for your prayers, comments, good wishes, concern and interest. I'll print the comments and any emails and take them to him as I visit him. He was in very good spirits today and is still optimistic for a good recovery. During his afternoon visit, the doctor said the surgery will probably be scheduled for the end of this week. Both a cardiologist and an orthopedic surgeon will check him out first. Dad sure wishes he had a computer available to help pass the time. He said he doesn't have a long enough attention span to watch TV. But time flies when he gets on the computer. The hospital is an hour from my house so I'll be back over to see him Wed evening, then probably daily after that. My son lives in Pueblo and is having tests done at the same hospital tomorrow, so he'll stop in to see his Grandpa Tuesday morning.

Since he's in Pueblo, but lives in Canon City, CO he'll have very few visitors, and I know he'd appreciate hearing from friends. If anyone wants to send him a card, here's his address (updated March 4, 2009):

Ernest Margheim
Parkview Medical Center
3 North, Room 24
400 W. 16th St.
Pueblo, CO 81003

I'll keep everyone posted. Thanks again for caring about Ernie. You've all given him great joy these recent months!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Two-Week Timeout in the Hospital

Well folks, the day and the hour are approaching. Tomorrow morning I will be admitted to Parkview Hospital in Pueblo, CO for at least two weeks and maybe 3 weeks.

It all sounds so crazy. I feel fine, I get around reasonable easy anymore after getting used to be immobile for 7 months. I still have the cast on my left leg, fortunately cast #4 only extends up to the knee, (18 inches) whereas the first ones were hip to toes (34 inches). It is a little hard to navigate going to the bathroom with such a cast and besides, it was like cement and HEAVY.
But this procedure (Feb 23rd) is preventive to save my right leg. He showed where they might have to amputate from ABOVE the knee. The by-pass by no means has any guarantees. But is the next best option.

After exhaustive Echo Gram and heart stress tests, Dr Bowman is taking the chance that my body will endure the by-pass surgery. My other medical appointments had to be postponed to schedule this right away. In an effort to restore circulation to my right leg primarily the right foot that now has two diabetic ulcers. The ulcers look better for a day or so then start draining again. Oozing dead flesh from lack of blood circulation and the smell is awful. If not treated it may turn to gangrene. Who would have ever thought that blood carries so many properties. Centura Home Health Care had their nurse come in this morning to apply new dressing to both ulcers and check my vitals, as they call it. They have been monitoring it every other day. This past week, both of my legs are swollen. The one with the cast feels real tight inside that cast. Dr Bowman said we FIRST must get that swelling down before we perform the by pass. The balloons they had implanted behind my right know quit functioning. Dr Bowman said we are back to square one. The report on the heart was it was weak but otherwise appeared healthy. These last couple of days I get spells of spasms that strike from my hip to my toes. I take pain pills when they strike.

Becky will try to keep you posted of the progress on her blog. If I get any email she will print them out and bring them to me. Her email is The first week is all about getting the swelling down, which probably is done with elevating the leg 24/7. I keep it elevated two to three hours every day now But those spasm comes on like a tornado, they strike every muscle and nerve as they move on through. they don't last long (just a few seconds) but they take your breath away when they strike and fade away again.

You can tell Ernie has lived 87 years with NO HOSPITALIZATIONS OF ANY KIND. This is a totally new experience. Well, I tell myself, THIS TOO SHALL PASS. lol Recalling what my Army buddy Charlie Ritzicke used to say, QUOTE: "I am glad I have lived the best YEARS of my life, these last few DAYS will not matter much."

I am getting my money's worth of use out of the ADA, handicapped provisions and facilities they remodeled in my house. It is a good thing I live alone, when these attacks hit, I might let out a couple of audible yells of screams. It relieves the tension. Talk to you in a couple of weeks.

'Tis Sweet to Remember

In my hometown of Hoisington, Kansas there was a drug store on the south end of Main Street, on the west side, that sold DeCoursey Ice Cream. I think their headquarters was in Wichita, but don’t think I have ever tasted any ice cream as good and delicious as DeCoursey. It was RICH and MOUTH WATERING.

When I started work at Thies Packing Co in 1942, I started with a wage of $17.50 a WEEK. There were no time clocks at that time, and no OVERTIME PAY. After a while my wages went to $37.50 a WEEK. Again no overtime, B-U-T I was drafted into the Army July 9, 1942 and while I was in the Army, Thies had a Wage and Hour audit, and had to pay some back wages. I don’t remember what my check was but I did received a check for back wages.

When I returned to Thies in 1945, they had time cards & clocks, etc. My job was a little different than when I left. Our bank deposits were in two parts: one was Customer checks and Money, and the other was MEAT POINTS. Yes, the plant had to collect paper POINTS from the stores we sold meat to and make a deposit at the American State Bank, with MEAT POINTS. Our price books had two columns, one for $/cents per pound and another was the number of POINTS for each meat item. Also with our purchase of livestock, the plant received a subsidy payment from the government on certain weights of cattle, mostly the lighter weight cattle like calves, etc. (Subsidy amounts were contingent on cattle WEIGHTS.) So we had to do bookkeeping on all live cattle purchases. After the war we had a government IRS audit. Oh what a mess that was. We had to go through a lot of cattle purchase records (boxes full of purchase invoices, and purchase books) for the auditors. I got in on that chore also. It was a MESS.

Sugar was also rationed during WW 2, so we had to account for all the POUNDS of cured hams we processed to justify our sugar purchases. The plant also did Custom Curing for farmers that butchered at home. They would bring us their fresh hams and we would cure and smoke them for the farmers, B-U-T we had to weigh the hams and the farmers had to bring us enough sugar as calculated to their ham weight, etc. I remember in our plant we had Sugar Bins, and Salt Bins. We office people had to be CAREFUL not to dump the farmers sugar into the SALT BIN.

My, my, how office chores have changed since those days. Bookkeeping naturally was all HAND WRITTEN, double entry (Debit/Credit); we used fountain pens, or straight pen with INK WELLS, (remember them?). We had heavy books, General Ledger, Accounts Receivable, Disbursement Journal, Accounts Payable and a General Journal for CLOSING entries. For a time we had a VOUCHER system, You booked transactions before they actually occured. Also a record called COST OF GOODS SOLD, to calculate inventories with sales, etc. to determine that part of the Statement of Income. This was a lengthy process with categories like Materials and Supplies, Livestock, Raw Material, Work In Process, Finished Goods. Since we were on 13 four week periods in our fiscal accounting periods, we had another record called AMORTIZING (or Amortization) of fixed expenses. (Sometimes contingent upon Budgeted Figures) and “Accruals”. Bookkeeping in those days was BOOKKEEPING in its RAW FORM. Today they call it ACCOUNTING.

The things we older ones can remember from the way we did things before computers. For taking dictation, I was one of the office guys that took short hand in school, so I took dictation from the boss on writing up pasture leases, etc. Now they have dictation machines to tape their dictation and the leases or letters can be typed from an earpiece listening to a tape recording. At that time, dictation was HAND WRITTEN in Gregg’s Short Hand by a secretary (me). When I took Bookkeeping, Short Hand, and Typing in Hoisington High School, I NEVER DREAMED I would be making my living the rest of my life using those studies.
See ‘ya all.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Me and My Valentine

Ernest and Phyllis Margheim
Married March 18, 1951
My wife Phyllis passed away February 24, 1997

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Railroad Hobos in the 1930s

A memorable era in my youth were the years of the railroad Hobos. I grew up in a town that was a base for the Missouri-Pacific Railroad shops and it had a Roundhouse. These were the days of STEAM ENGINES. My dad and one of my uncles worked at the Missouri Pacific Railroad Shops. We kids often hung around the railroad switch yards and visited with the Hobos. We even played "Work-Up" baseball with them. "Work-Up" is where the players in various innings progressed through the field positions hoping to be pitcher.

The Roundhouse was a large circular building and the center was a huge TURNTABLE, where Steam Engines could swivel to different directions.

There is a lot of information on the internet about "Hobos". In fact there is an annual convention at Birks, Iowa in August of each year.

Along with Hobos riding the trains came door to door beggars for food. In fact our family had what you might call a HANDS ON experience.

Mother was raised on a Kansas farm with 6 brothers. During the depression of the 1930s jobs were scarce. In looking for work, her brother Henry "rode the rails". One night about 2 o'clock a.m. we heard a knock on the door. At that time we were living in Hoisington, Kansas. We opened the door to my mother's brother Henry asking for food. He had come into Hoisington via freight train, passing through from Pennsylvania enroute to Colorado to find work in the Gold Mines. Dad carried a lunch pail in those days, so Mom was able to fix Henry the meal she was keeping in the "ice box" for Dad's lunch. I remember Mom apologizing to Henry, for lack of more food in the house to make him a meal at that hour. It was his intention to hop a ride on another freight train that same night yet. We kids got up and experienced a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. Out of the blue here was my Uncle Henry "hopping trains"-- "riding the rails" like a railroad Hobo.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Remembering My Farm Chores

Kids nowadays miss out on the kinds of experiences we had when we were kids. There was no child labor law, so kids worked right along with their parents. Kids drove tractors when they were ten years old. The tractor was operated with just a clutch; no accelerators. Most kids could hardly reach the clutch with their legs. One time I was plowing alone in the field. When I had to refill the gas tank on our McCormick Deering (like the one pictured above) the tank on top of the engine was so hot I was afraid if I spilled any gas, it might catch fire. It was so hot you could not lay your hand on it. I was not very old when I drove the tractor pulling the combine in wheat harvest. It was tricky to go through washout gullies and wet spots in the field that I had to maneuver around.

Another of my chores was turning the crank on the cream separator. If I turned it too fast, the cream would turn out too thick and too rich; if I turned it too slow, the cream was still part of the skim milk. The speed that I turned it had to be "Just Right".

Another farm experience was hauling feed shocks, pitchfork bundles overhead. Mice would fall out of those shocks and fall on us. I was always afraid they would fall down my shirt collar on the back of my neck or run up the pant leg of my bib overalls.

When we took eggs to town, they had to be candled. At home we had an incubator and hatched our own chicks. It was heated with kerosene. We kids would have to make frequent visits to check on the heat, then watch when the eggs got pecked as they hatched.

Kids miss out on a lot these days, don't they! Not to mention the home brew! All the farmers made beer.

As kids one of our chores was to stomp the cabbage in those earthenware crocks for sauerkraut. My mom always had the crocks full of cucumbers for making pickles. I remember the alum that was added to the brine. It would really pucker your tongue.

Speaking of tongue, yep I also had my tongue stick on the pump handle in the winter. That was something I did only ONCE! I learned my lesson. It's hard to cry when your tongue is stuck!

I remember having to break the ice in the stock tanks so the cattle and horses could drink. No tank heaters in those days!

Slopping the hogs was another chore. In a 30 gallon wooden barrel we poured the skim milk and added bran that we called "shorts" for the hogs.

Yes, those were the days memories are made of.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Don't Like Snakes!

When I was about 6 years old and my family lived on the farm from 1927 to 1931 west of Wakeeney, Kansas, I was old enough to bring in the cattle from the pasture for evening milking. I was SCARED STIFF of snakes. Even plain old Bull Snakes. A snake was a snake to me!

Often my friends and I went barefoot most of the summer. When I saw a snake while I was bringing in the cattle, GOODBYE CATTLE! I ran for the house, half way whimpering or crying. I imagined the snakes could fly and could catch me. I never looked back!

When I was quite young we visited a boy in the Hays (KS) hospital who had been bitten by a rattlesnake. He was puffed up, swollen and black and blue in his swollen face. I shall never forget that. To this day, I DON'T LIKE SNAKES.

While I was in the Army during World War II, we had to sleep out on the ground during maneuvers bivouac. In Tennessee, they had Coral Snakes, small and colorful, orange and black. They told us they were poisonous. Grrrrr. I did not like that!

On the farm we had a lot of those little green Garter Snakes. I finally got used to them as our dogs would bite them in their middle and violently shake their head to tear them apart.

We also had Blue Racers a small greenish snake in the chicken house. Gathering eggs, we kids were told to watch for snakes in the nest. Yow!