Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Little Town That Was

Geraldine 'Jerrie' Marston Kilgore was born in a small Nebraska town that no longer exists...Dorsey, Nebraska. This little country town was located approximately 20 miles northeast of O'Neill, and was her home until 1950. She reminisces about her days as a child growing up on her family's farm...

"My sister, brother and I attended school at Dorsey. We lived on a farm just over a mile from school, and walked to and from the school almost every day. We always found something to entertain us as we walked along."

"We had the whole outside for our play yard---we played cowboys and Indians (wouldn't that just amaze the grandchildren with their play toys of today?) We fished in the Steel Creek, which, in those days, had Speckled and Rainbow Trout. What a day it was when we caught one! We had a horse right off the Rosebud Reservation, that could not be bridled nor saddled. I was afraid to ride bareback, but my sister rode that horse all over the place."

"My brother, sister and I always had chores that were done daily. In the fall of the year, when the days started getting shorter, we would rush through our chores so we would have time to play games. I can't remember what the games could have been, but I do remember running around in the yard until nightfall."

"My chores were to see that the chickens were watered and fed (after they were penned up for the cold months) and to get in wood for the next day. I chopped wood and one evening while in the process of doing this, one of our cats (which we always had plenty running around outside) jumped onto the chopping block just as I was coming down with the axe. I need go no further with this discussion as I am sure you all can imagine what happened. In the really cold part of winter, I had to carry water to the chickens before I went to school, be sure the little burner was going on the heater that kept it from freezing. In the evening, the water was emptied and the burner blown out for the night. It was too dangerous to leave it burn all night. We always let the chickens run free in the summer, but when the nights started turning cold, we had to go out in the late evening after the chickens had gone to roost and catch every one of them and put them in the chicken coop. For some reason I cannot fathom, I loved that job! I think there was most likely a Harvest Moon and it all just seemed too marvelous. I don't remember that folks had to remind us to do our chores, it was something farm kids did. We weren't any different than anyone else---we all had jobs to do and did them without fussing. It was a good life."

"We had to get the milk cows in the evening which meant a long walk out into the pasture. Other people tell of their cows coming home at milking time, but ours never did. Our neighbor across the creek had cowbells on his cows and I just loved to hear the tinkling bells in the evening when they were coming down to the barn. We lived in a valley, and I can still remember how on hot summer days the temperature changed as we started down into the valley---it was always much cooler. Behind our house was a stand of wild crab apples. In the evening when they bloomed, it was the most heavenly scent, I just loved that as a child. It was like a huge, pink bouquet and I can remember wishing they would last all summer. The lilac bushes were huge, like none I have seen since...maybe it was that I was just a child! I remember my mother's vegetable garden...she always planted zinnias in with the vegetables. I continued that in later years when I had my own gardens."

"In the winter, when we got heavy snowfall we had to shovel the snow off the shed roof on the back of the big barn. As smaller children, we would have a big argument who's turn it was to shovel as we all couldn't wait to get up on that roof. As we got older, we soon learned it was more like work and then the argument went the other way!"

Jerrie, mother of four grown children, 81 years old and now widowed, resides in Indiana. She says, "I have written poetry all my life. Have had the good fortune of having a few poems published. I have been gone from Nebraska for many, many years, but I left my heart back there when I moved."

I will be posting some of Jerrie's poems from time to time, as her poems seem to have the heart and soul of Nebraska within the lines.



Dorsey was a post office and a little country store.

Dorsey was a place that is no more.

But oh! The happy memories, like a treasure I embrace,

Of the time I was a carefree child in that long ago country place.

I hold onto the memories with a passion now, it seems.

And I'll go back to Dorsey, but only in my dream.

Yes, I'll go back to Dorsey and I'll roam the hills once more.

And walk the rolling prairie where my steps have gone before.

I'll hear the night winds whisper, as I stroll beside a stream.

I'll be going back to Dorsey, but only in my dreams.

Copyright 2009 Geraldine Kilgore


  1. Great story....full of the good ol' playing OUTSIDE...doing CHORES without fussing! Sounds the good life!

    I loved Jerrie's poem...says soo much!

    Thanks for the wonderful interviews here...


  2. These are very interesting interviews; I'm looking forward to the next one. Thanks, Joy.
    I especially enjoyed hearing about Jerrie and Dorsey Store/PO. My Uncle Lowell Hibbs and his family ran the store, even building a house on the site. He might have been the last one to have a store there; maybe someone else knows for sure. I remember being there. Uncle Lowell moved the house into O'Neill, lived there and then moved to Boise, Idaho. The house is still in O'Neill.



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