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Ferne Elonorah (States) Holmes Letter to her Grandchildren, 1983

Ferne was a long time correspondent for the Globe Free Press and the Jefferson Bee and Herald. A daughter of Charles DeWalt and Cora (Finkle) States, she, along with her brothers, Jay, Claude, and Glen, her sisters, Pearl, Grace, Blanche and Bernice, were raised in Rippey. Charles Dewalt, their father, was the partner of Crumley and States Store. The letter was shared with Jean Borgeson in May, 2020, by her daughters Marilyn John and Cheryl Gardiner. Another daughter, Janet Fessler passed away September 30, 2018. The letter is a treasured gift to Ferne's children and grandchildren.

Ferne Elnorah (States) Holmes (in her own words)

(sometime at end of 1983 as she stated at the conclusion of the draft for this article)

Dear Grandchildren,                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

I was born on October 30, 1903 on a farm southwest of Rippey, (where LaVere Derry’s currently live), moving to town in 1906 when I was 2 ½ years old, along with my brothers Jay, Claude, and Glen, and sisters, Pearl and Grace.  We were joined by two sisters, Blanche in 1906 and Bernice in 1909.  (Did Bernice, or did she not arrive in Aunt Beck’s suitcase?)

Mother was busy, and I had a desire to roam, going through yard gate or broken fence to downtown business places and neighbors -- a little brat!  At church, I was taken to anteroom and disciplined, frequently.

I started school in 1909, completing first three grades in two years. During the next three years, her sister-in-law, Winnie States, was the teacher, so there were no favors. My seventh and eighth grade teacher was an old maid, Glovena McCall.  In high school there were only the superintendent and principal.  In order to complete the 32 required credits, graduates had to go to Perry or Grand Junction for additional subjects.  There were five of us from Rippey who rode the train to Perry, leaving at 8:45 A. M., then walking from station to High school (9 blocks), taking a sack lunch.  We spent an hour at the Library after school to kill time for the 6:30 P. M. back to Rippey.  Thus, I was a member of the Rippey graduating class of 1919 and of Perry in 1920.

I had worked at my father’s store (Crumley and States) while in school then worked full-time there until June, 1922 when I went to Des Moines to take a  business course at Capital City Commercial College, graduating from the six months bookkeeping course.  It was at CCCC that my penmanship improved as my old-maid instructor was very strict and demanded perfection. I worked at a cafeteria to earn my daily meals.  

After working awhile for a Wholesale Produce, then Blue Line Storage and Transfer for $85 per month I returned to Rippey in the summer of 1923.  Again I worked at the store, until deciding to attend the University of Commerce at Highland Park (Des Moines) for further business education, in 1927.  An opening became available at the First National Bank in Rippey, so I applied and was accepted for $60 per, month, raised to $75 after 1 ½ years.

Entertainment in a small town was limited—playing croquet, associating with the group of single teachers, going to basketball games and dating for out of town movies. One summer I went home with a cousin, Belle States, to Marseilles, Illinois and we spent a weekend in Chicago, staying at the Hotel Sherman, and attending several shows.

Paul Holmes and I had dated frequently, but also with other people in previous years.  We decided to get married and I took two weeks vacation in August of 1930.  After obtaining the license at Polk County Courthouse, (Paul had bought the wedding ring at Josephs Jewelry the previous week}, we drove to home of my sister, Grace and Earl Warren.  After a delicious chicken dinner, and a very warm day, we were married by Earl Warren, witnessed by Glen and Alice States.  My father and Grace’s sons were also present.

 Later in afternoon we registered at the Kirkwood Hotel then attended a night baseball game at Western League Park in north Des Moines. It had been a hot day and evening and of course there was no air conditioning in those days. The next morning, it was raining as we left for Shenandoah, taking a few miles over a clay road under construction. That night we attended the Earl May Grand Opera, went to Omaha the next day for a show and dinner. We returned to Paul’s home, which would be mine for the next 48 years.  I worked another year at the bank.  That first year we had lived with Paul’s mother and brother, Howard, until they moved to Rippey.

I joined the Royal Neighbors in 1920, having served as Recorder since 1929. In 1924 I also joined Rippey Star Chapter OES and have served as their secretary around 40 years to present time, and was Worthy Matron in 1934.  I took over correspondent for Globe–Free Press and the Jefferson papers in 1976, and still at it! 

I remained alone on the farm for 10 years after Paul’s death, then had a sale and moved to the Senior Citizens apartments in Rippey in 1979.

A big milestone in my life, was celebrating my 80th birthday on October 30, 1983 with all family present except Bryan and Ellen Fessler. I had the privilege of attending graduations of all nine grandchildren from high school, and the weddings of four of them to this date.

With love,