Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

December 12, 2013

Little snippets of Christmas childhood

By Frances Bennell
The Daily Iowegian

---- — I remember Dad and Mom telling me about Santa being about the spirit of Christmas and parents providing the presents and baby Jesus being our reward for being faithful to God which provided a lot of thinking for the about six year old who was me.

I immediately started thinking how to get up on the roof to make the clip clopping sound of reindeer because my younger sister and brother must always believe in Santa and presents. I decided to include baby Jesus as soon as I mastered God. Dad and Mom said that was okay and they would ask my grandparents to help.

Dad and Mom thought just making my tracks with Mom’s boots would work if I did a really good job with the tracks in the snow.

My mom always thought that since my sister loved dolls, I would secretly love dolls too. My Dad knew better. He got me a small sled. I would take the sled out into the darkness of winter moonlight and make paths in the towering snow drifts. Yeah, I still think like that.

You must understand that I was an only child for five years, give a year or two, and I had to cover all the roles — of the oldest, trusted child, being the baby part of the time when they thought of it and even a middle child sometimes if they were comparing me to one of my cousins.

I think I was lucky. They mostly thought, if I thought I could handle outside in the dark, winter night on my sled, I probably could handle it.

Right after I left the house, of course, Dad put on his real rubber boots, just in time to dig me out of a snow canyon. One night, after Christmas, I was sledding along and almost ran over him. With a full moon you can see pretty good, but I didn’t see him until I ran up over his boots. He said, “You wanna have a snowball fight?” I looked up at the moon and down at all the snow. I said, “I think it is time to go in, Dad.”

The three of us were able to successfully raise Dana and Joe. My father, Orel Kaster, succumbed to heart problems, as did all his brothers, except Ernie, in the early 60s. Forrest, Orpha, Rex, Orel, and their sisters, Tressie, Ruby and Gladys, died over the next 20 or so years. Ernie was the last to go. My grandparents were Ben and Christianna Kaster. I may have some dates wrong. I tend to be a little loose in my dates. One of my cousins, always, will tell me. Dana died because she had the same thing Dad did. Joe now lives in Knoxville, close to the car racing he loves.

Mom’s brother’s and sisters were Burdette, Millie, Marie, Mary, Bill and Carl Cox in Knoxville and Lucille Robinson here in Moravia are still living. Mom dearly loved her Mom and Dad, Frank and Frances Cox, who got to be nicknamed Frankie, so I didn’t get to be called that. It was bad enough that O. Kaster got passed around town until it got to the right O. Kaster. I did have the nickname of Annie, so my mail went to Anna and/or Frances/Annie Kaster. Don Pettibone, the postmaster, wondered why we grew up in clumps all in Moravia.

Much of this story is true, possibly embellished by me, but the moonlight snow and the sled are true. I managed to find a little girl who needed a doll that Christmas and my Mom accepted that she only had one girl who loved dolls and sewing as much as she did. She never complained about the sewing lack or not wanting dolls. She died of heart trouble much later and loved all her family and friends very much. I however, am still here in Moravia and hope never to leave and my memories of my parents and Dana are good.