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Personal History for Doris Lostroh

Just The Facts

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My name is Doris Virginia Oxley Lostroh. My mother wanted my first name to be Virginia, but my father evidently did not care for that name, and so they decided that it could be my middle name, and Doris would be the first.

I was born in a little old square house in the middle of Pleasant Dale, Nebraska. I wonder who owned it before Dad bought it, but it wasn't long before he remodeled it into a more modern dwelling. A Dr. Sandusky delivered me, and his nurse, May Kunkle was also there. I have pictures of her,dressed all in white, holding me outside in the yard. My birth date is September 2, 1923, and so I am writing this story when I am really, really old. However, my health is still quite good, and I am engaged in many activities.

Dad built a playhouse with little furniture in the back yard, and I spent many happy hours in it. I enjoyed playing with dolls, and tried sewing doll clothes. I enjoyed roller skating up and down the sidewalks of town. Sometimes there would be a line of us youngsters skating, and I remember going down one hill and hitting a brick sidewalk, which was a problem. We also made noise clattering past that residence, and the owner, who was the postmaster, really complained, but that didn't stop us. One Christmas I got a bicycle. My dad hid it in our smoke house, and it would have been a great surprise if the lady across the street hadn't told me. We kids got even with her, though. Her cherry tree was right next to the sidewalk, and we sampled a few of the cherries when they got ripe! Going back to bike riding reminds me of my first attempt. My friend ran alongside getting me to keep my balance, and then off I went. All went well until I got to the bottom of the hill where I wanted to stop, but I didn't know how to put on the brakes, so the best solution was to have a wreck, which I did. I enjoyed watching my dad work in his garage, and I used the long ribbons of wood that he planed off boards to try to fasten to my hair for long curls.

As a child, I was always the shortest of my schoolmates. As an adult, I am 5ft. 2in. tall. When I was born, I weighed 7lb. When I was married, I weighed 95lb., and now, living in a retirement community, and eating five-course dinners every night, I weigh 125lb.

I have no brothers or sisters. I am right-handed, do not wear glasses except for reading, my eyes are blue-green, I have no allergies that I know of. My favorite poet is Edgar A. Guest, my favorite artist is Norman Rockwell, and my favorite color is pink.

We were a middle-class family. My mother, Lydia Caroline Kubes Oxley, was born and raised on a farm between Pleasant Dale and Crete. She knew how to milk cows and shock wheat! She was a very particular housekeeper and an excellent seamstress. She taught me to sew at an early age. My father, Harry Randolph Oxley, was born on a farm east of Pleasant Dale, (now the Ralph Burd farm).Mother had attended a country school near her home, District 19, in Seward county. She, with her siblings and neighbor children, walked to school. Dad also attended a country school, District 38, in Lancaster County. Both of my parents started to high school, Mother in Lincoln at University High, and Dad at Pleasant Dale, but neither finished.

Dad started helping his uncle, Bill Oxley, who was a carpenter, and he learned the trade for himself. During his life, he built numerous houses, two schools, two churches, and many other small buildings. Many of the homes near Pleasant Dale were built by him. He built a new home for my husband and me in 1960, and the last house he built was for my husband's parents in 1964 when he was 76 years old.

Dad was in the U.S. Navy in World War I in 1919, and was based in England. He was a Carpenter's Mate 2nd Class, and his job was to repair the wooden parts of planes. He brought home a little cane made from the propellor of a downed plane.

My parents were married in Seward on March 17, 1921. Their attendants were Mother's sister and brother-in-law, Bessie and Rudolf Stehlik.

I started to school in the first grade in Pleasant Dale when I was five years old. I skipped to the third grade in my second year. I attended that school through the twelfth grade, and I was honored to be the valedictorian when I was graduated at age 15. My parents couldn't afford to buy me a class ring when I was in school. Mother gave me a lovely cameo ring of hers as my graduation gift, and I still wear it. Later, I ordered a class ring for myself, and I remember it cost $7.40. I did receive a scholarship to Doane College, but my parents thought I was too young to continue school at that time. I later earned enough credit from the University of Nebraska Lincoln to get a General Elementary teaching certificate. I began teaching at a rural school, District 65, in Seward County, for $50 a month.

I really enjoyed the country school. The children were very cooperative, as were the parents. There was always the fire to start on cold mornings, and the janitor work to be done after school. The students helped, and the room was neat in a matter of minutes.

I taught a total of seven years, three at District 65, three at District 45, and one at District 64. That brought me up to 1949, when I married Vernon F. Lostroh.

Going back to my childhood, when I was twelve years old, we were in the midst of The Depression of the thirties, and building jobs were getting scarce. Dad decided that if we lived on a farm, we would be better off, and so he bought eighty [very rundown] acres of land. The house was in very poor condition, so it was decided that we would move our town house, garage, and large chicken house along to the country. This was a big affair in little Pleasant Dale. We hired four men driving large farm tractors to pull the building to its new site. It was loaded onto large beams on wheels, and the housemover walked beside the building the whole distance. Progress was very slow, as the road had to be checked every foot of the way to make sure it was wide enough and solid enough to carry the weight. It took two days to get to the two-mile destination northwest of town. We stayed in the house while it was being moved. Some of the plaster cracked, but all in all, it survived the trip pretty well.

In 1936 I started taking piano music lessons from Mrs. Samuel Pennington, who charged 50c a lesson. I took lessons for two years. I started playing for Sunday School at the Pleasant Dale Methodist church, and when I was 14, I played for the High School programs and graduations. I also began playing for church services and choir performances. Our piano at home was a Gulbranson player piano, and I spent many happy hours pedaling it to hear all the songs that were popular in my parents' day. We discarded all those piano rolls when I began to play from notes, and I regretted that many times.

Dad was not too much of a farmer--Mother said that he was too much of an 8 [o'clock] to 5 man. Luckily, his right-hand helper in his carpentry work was also a retired farmer who had been a good farmer , and he helped much of the time. Finally, Dad rented the land out and went back to building. In the meantime, we had some pigs, chickens, and several cows, and we had eggs and sweet cream to sell on Saturday night when all the farmers and their families went to town to "trade" produce for groceries. A lot of the young folks got together and went to Lincoln for entertainment, usually a movie and sometimes to the well-known Capital Beach. Sometimes we went to Malcolm where there was rollerskating in the upper floor of a building.

It was on one of these Saturday nights that I met Vernon. We dated for a long time before we got married, but I was teaching school, and in 1945, Vernon was inducted into the Army. He took his basic training at Camp Fannin, Texas, and then was sent to Okinawa, where he spent the next year.

Our wedding was on May 25, 1949 in the parlor of my parents' home. Our attendants were my cousin and her husband, Evelyn and John Carlile. The pastor was Harry McClellan. We had a wedding supper, served by our neighbor, Dora Viets, and later in the evening, our friends and neighbors gave us a lively charivari. We expected them, and had treats for them. When the evening ended, Vernon and I went directly to our "new" home. We couldn't go on a honeymoon just then, because Vernon had to plant corn the next day! We waited until fall to go on a trip to the Black Hills.

When Vernon and I were married, I really learned what farming is. Only a few days after we were married and moved into our house, I had the pleasure of helping to get a cow from Vernon's parents' home to ours--a distance of four miles, herding the old girl down the road to our farm. That was the beginning of what would later be our dairy herd, and that was really farming! We were everlastingly putting up hay, and, of course we raised wheat, corn, milo, and soybeans, which took a lot of time to plant, keep weed-free, and harvest.

The farm was bought by Vernon's parents from an insurance company, and it was very rundown, to put it mildly. Pesticides were not used at that time, and Vernon and I spent hours on end chopping cockleburs and sunflowers in the fields. We, at times, felt like giving up, but Vernon's father came and helped chop.

When it rained, we could go to Lincoln or Seward, or wherever we wanted, but if the sun came out and there was hay waiting to be taken care of, we had to head for home!

In 1950, our first daughter , Sheralyn Virginia, was born. In 1958, our second daughter, Kimberly Vernene, arrived. Both girls attended the country school, District 64, which was just a short distance down the road. Most of the students walked to school in those days, and we remember how the children liked to stop in when our apple trees were loaded with fruit. [The trees were close to the road.]

The school closed in 1979 because of consolidation. We bought the building and the land. Then the schoolhouse was bought by the Seward County Museum, and it was moved to Goehner, the museum site. Although the contents of the school building were sold at auction, the museum has been able to obtain desks, etc. to make it look almost like it did when school was held in it. Some of the teachers who taught in the school have signed their names on the blackboard when they visited the museum, and my name is there too.

In 1960 we built a new home. My father was the builder, and friends and neighbors were good help too. The exterior was Roman Rough brick, and when we moved to Lincoln, I brought a brick along as a keepsake!

In 1982, Pleasant Dale celebrated its centennial. A committee decided that we should publish a centennial book. JoAnne Lostroh and I spent many hours working on this book as co-editors. We gathered material from all the sources that we could find, and many good helpers wrote and typed for us. JoAnne and I were asked to produce a book for the Pleasant Dale Fire Department, in 1992, and we did that,also.

Sherry attended high school in Lincoln at University High until it closed, and then she transferred to the new East High. She was a member of the first graduating class in 1968. She went on to the University of Nebraska and earned her B.S., M.A., and PhD. degrees.

Kim attended Seward High School, and was graduated there in 1976. She then attended Lincoln School of Commerce, after which she worked for the State Department of Motor Vehicles for almost 20 years.

During all this time, Vernon and I were working hard to improve the farm, start dairying, and save some money. Little did I know when I got married that I would also be married to those cows, but that was the case, and I was always afraid of them. We put in a Grade A milking system, which was a big improvement, but there was no time off, and it was still hard work. We sold the dairy herd in 1974. Some of our cows went to Iran. The broker made the profit on that sale, however.

We continued with grain farming until 1989, when we sold the machinery. Vernon had had detached retinas in both eyes and was not able to drive a car for two years. I rode with him in the tractor to prevent his driving into fences, but when he reached age 62, he decided to call it quits in farming. Just at that time, Rodney and Kathryn Schildt were planning their wedding, and when we asked Rod's father about renting our farm, he said that he thought Rodney and his brother Michael would very much like to have that land. They have been farming our land ever since that transaction just a few days before the wedding.

Vernon and I have done quite a bit of traveling. We have gone through every state in the Union except Alaska. We went to Europe twice, and visited England, Holland, France, Germany, Luxenbourg, Switzerland, and Italy. We went to Hawaii twice. We took a bus tour to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Our last trip was a cruise through the Panama Canal and to several Carrabean islands. We also stopped at Caracus, Venezuela just after they had had torrential rains that destroyed many homes that were built on the mountainside.

We enjoyed living the life of retirees in the country until 2001, when I knew that we needed to move to a retirement facility. Vernon absolutely hated the idea, but caring for a large yard, and doing necessary repairs,etc., was getting to be too difficult. He was having increased health problems, and I insisted that we move to Lincoln.

Here we are at The Landing with a new group of friends, Vernon doing a lot of reading, and I do a million other things, including playing the piano once again. Mother and Dad would be pleased about that. I play for church part of the time, sometimes for the Memory Support group downstairs, and also I am having a lot of fun playing duets with a lady I met when we moved into the Landing, Elladeane Brockmeier. We play the old dance music popular when we were young. We decided on a name for ourselves, "HIT AND MISS"---we hit some (notes) and miss some! We play on one piano---I play the treble and Elly plays the bass. We use my little manuscript books in which I have written the melody notes for me, and the chord names for Elly. The lovely, lovely,really lovely music that we produce is all improvised, and I know we never play a song the same way twice! Maybe that is good, or maybe it is bad, who knows? At this date, we have played almost three dozen programs, at The Landing as well as other places,and we hope to continue because we are having so much fun.


I have the Oxley family Bible bought in 1842 by my great-grandfather, Micajah S. Oxley. He was born in Kentucky in 1817. His father, Everett Oxley, was a native of Virginia. His grandfather, Clare Oxley, was born in 1745 in England, later came to Virginia, and later to Kentucky, living near Lexington. He lived to be 100 years old. Incidentally, my father, Harry, also lived to be 100. Micajah's father, Everett, who was reared in Virginia, came with his parents to Kentucky, and married Celia Scott. Everett died in 1824. His widow and six children went to Indiana with a team of horses, and lived there until 1844, when Mrs. Oxley moved to Linn County, Iowa. Micajah, who was by then grown, purchased government land near Marion, where he built a log cabin. Later he moved to Waterloo and lived there until 1864. In 1880 he again sold out and moved to Nebraska and settled in Middlecreek Precinct. Micajah was married twice. His first wife was Margaret Porter, whom he married in 1842, and who died in 1850 at age 30. She bore him four children. He married Nancy Poyner in 1851, and they had eight children, one of whom was Henry, my grandfather. Nancy died in 1878 at age 53.

Vernon and I went to Wayland, Iowa to find Nancy's grave. Micajah is buried in the Pleasant Dale cemetery, as are my grandparents, Henry and Elizabeth, and my parents, Harry and Lydia. Vernon and I have our plot there, too, and our tombstone is there with our picture on it, waiting for us!

Grandmother Oxley's maiden name was Ickes. Her family came from Ickesburg, Pennsylvania, and settled near Milford. Later, they moved to a farm east of Pleasant Dale near the Oxleys. Elizabeth and Henry E. Oxley were married in 1887, and they lived on a farm east of Pleasant Dale. In 1900, she and my grandfather moved from their farm home east of Pleasant Dale into town and had an implement and hardware business. Later, they had a butcher shop. I remember my dad telling that when the railroad was being built at the edge of Pleasant Dale, they sold a lot of fresh meat for the workers.

When I was growing up in Pleasant Dale, I could go down the street to my grandparents' home. I remember that they had a hammock and a porch swing. I treasure some things that they had in their home and that I now have. One is the oak, high-backed dresser with a mirror, which was in their bedroom. The other is a 12-piece bedroom toiletry set. It includes the big wash basin, cold water pitcher, a smaller hot water pitcher, brush bowl, soap dish with a liner and lid, shaving mug, the big slop jar with a lid, and of course, the chamber pot with a lid.

Right across the street from my grandparents was the school, and when I rode a bicycle to high school there, I left the bike in their yard.

The grandparents on my mother's side of the family were all Czech. My grandmother's maiden name was Albertina Svoboda, and she married my grandfather, Frank Kubes, in 1892. Both of them had come from Czechoslovakia with their parents, who farmed near Crete. My grandparents also farmed, and when they retired, they moved into a new house, built by my father, in Crete. Our Christmases were spent at their home, and I remember the good goose dinners . Of course, there had to be sourkraut which was homemade and delicious because it was never very tart, and it contained caraway seed. The aunts and cousins were there too.

The valance on our bedroom window is my great grandmother Katrina Svoboda's black, embroidered velvet shawl from Czechoslovakia. I have my grandmother Albertina's trunk, which held her clothing when she came to this country.

Some treasures that belonged to my parents are Dad's Uncle Sam bank, Mother's toy stove, and their gold watches.

Things I remember at my parents' home: Mother heating a curling iron in the chimney of a lighted lamp, and Dad reading The Saturday Evening Post after he had popped a big skilletful of popcorn.

Things that I remember my mother saying: "The test of good manners is putting up with bad ones," and "Spring is treacherous!" Dad said, "Live every day so that you can look any man in the face and tell him to go to hell." They both gave good advice in their own ways.