In between school hours, her chores included making up all the beds in the morning, doing all the dishes, and gathering eggs from the chicken house. She enjoyed raising her own chickens and ducks on the farm. Her mother would do the garden work, and Anna Mayme did not enjoy helping her at all, because it was hard work. Cooking was something Anna thoroughly enjoyed.
Not all of the children’s time was spent working. There was still time for pleasure. Often at night, they would decorate the yard with lanterns, and all the young people in the neighborhood would come over for the party. The girls from school would also come over sometimes to have “sleep-ins” on the weekends.
Grandma had her share of fun with other young people, but her favorite occupation was riding horses. The family raised them to work, ride, and breed. Because they also raised cattle, there were always horses saddled in case a cow would get lose. Donned in her long, bloomer-like “riding pants”, she would go to the barn and get one of those horses to ride, unbeknownst to her parents. She rode different horses of course. Sometimes it was Prince, other times she rode Bird, but most often, she rode a large horse called Dan. When her father found out, he cautioned her that the horse was an unruly one, and could kill her. Grandma says Dan liked her, and never gave her any trouble at all.
Fond memories were created during time spent with her grandma and grandpa Potter. She would often go along with them when they went places. Her grandfather was a judge at the fair in Nevada, and the family would get free tickets for three days. There were food contests, horseracing, and livestock judging. This was a highlight in Anna’s year.
She also enjoyed making trips into town alone. Tightly clutching her quarter in the palm of her hand, she would head for the candy store. There she would spend the precious twenty-five cent piece on her favorite candies.
When Anna’s mother and father were courting, they had been Christians, but after their marriage, they lost their faith. She remembers her Grandma Potter always reading her Bible before bed, but her Grandfather and her own parents were not saved. A revival came to the little country church when Anna Mayme was twelve, and there she and both her parents prayed through. Anna enjoyed going to church after she became a Christian. It was so important to her that on a Sunday when both her parents had come down with the flu, she rode on horseback to church in her “riding pants” and changed into her Sunday dress when she arrived there.
Every summer, Lewie’s sister, Maud, would come from Illinois and stay at the farm with her children. The young cousins became as close as if they were siblings, and still today, distance does not prevent them from keeping in touch. They spent hours on end playing house in the barn. The boys would often rough- house, and once they even cut tree limbs down and hit each other with them. On one occasion, they were riding in the carriage, and Anna Mayme caught a hummingbird in her bare hand. Her plans of keeping it to show off quickly changed when the bird stuck its beak into her hand, causing her to set it free quickly!
Lewie and Maud had other sisters who lived relatively close to Vernon County in Fort Scott, Kansas. Every year on Christmas or Thanksgiving, they would come to the farmhouse for the Potter family reunion. The cousins and their grandma and grandpa Potter slept in the long sleeping porch on the east side of the house. It had four or five beds, each separated by a curtain that could be pulled back. Because there were so many relatives, they usually had to put other mattresses on the floor of the room. Lewie and Lilla stayed in their own bedroom on the north side of the farmhouse.
When the children were young, they would coax their parents to get a Christmas tree. Around it everyone had a chair and on Christmas Eve each child hung his stocking from his chair, excitedly anticipating what he might find there the next morning. When they woke up, they discovered fruit, lots of candy, and one orange apiece. Before the Depression, Anna’s family would send gifts to the cousins in Illinois when they were not together for Christmas.
They did not always exchange gifts, but one year in particular Anna Mayme wanted a doll. Not just any doll, but a special one with big sleepy eyes. When she went in to see the Christmas tree, there it sat. Her mother tried to convince her that the doll was for her cousin Louise, but she knew better. Sure enough the next morning, Anna got her doll. She named it Annabelle Evangeline after herself, her grandma Potter, and her grandma’s sister.
While most of the time the family gathered at the farm, Anna Mayme and her family once decided to visit Aunt Maud and Uncle Fred in Illinois. They had just bought a new car, and had a cousin work on it before the trip. They all piled in and drove away, anticipating a peaceful day trip to see some beloved relatives. Unbeknownst to them, however, the dear cousin had left old rags in the car which promptly caught on fire. Alarmed, Lilla promptly jumped out of the car, spraining her ankle. Forced to wait for the car to be repaired, they rented a hotel room. When their destination was finally reached the following day, they had a great visit with no further problems other than Lilla’s sprained ankle.
Anna Mayme graduated from her little country school, and went to high school at Cottey College an elite school for girls in Nevada, Mo. Although it was a boarding school, she did not live on the campus. Instead, she spent part of her time with her Grandma Wiles and part with her aunt Ruby, who lived nearby.
She then moved to Fort Scott and attended the high school there. She was on the debate team, and went to and oration contest both years that she attended school in Fort Scott. They would compete at their own school, then go to larger schools such as Pittsburg High School and compete there. The school’s music teachers were very excellent, and the choir won at music contest. If memory serves her well, Anna Mayme spent one year at the Fort Scott Junior College after graduating from high school. She had lots of girlfriends, some who she met at contest, and some whose parents were affiliated with the high school. However, she only had one serious boyfriend, Merle Durrell Wolf.
When Anna was sixteen, her mother gave birth to a baby boy, but neither survived the incident. The baby died before it was born, causing an infection which could have been easily healed with a round of penicillin, a drug that was not available in 1930. Naturally, because she was the oldest, Anna assumed all of her mother’s responsibilities, keeping house for the family. She and her two brothers had never fought much because their mother would not tolerate it, but Grandma remembers a few fights the three had after she died.
Soon, the Depression began, and like every other family in America, the Potters suffered from it. Because they were farmers, they were obviously not without food, and only bought the bare necessities. Because money was scarce throughout the country, it was difficult to get hardly any money even for the chicken’s eggs. Things were tight, but they were never poverty-stricken.
At one point, her grandfather did go broke, but not necessarily because of the Depression. He was never satisfied, always craving more and more land. They lost much of the farm’s land, but managed to keep the farmhouse, the “Red House” on the hill, and the land surrounding them.
Anna Mayme and her boyfriend Merle decided to get married when she was eighteen. She had dreamed of getting married in her own home. She wanted to walk down its large, curvy stairway. This idea did not go well with her father, to say the least. He was mad at Anna and did not want her to get married. Even her own beloved father could not keep her from marrying the man she wanted to spend her life with, and in November, the two eloped. They went one hundred miles north to Kansas City and visited the American Royal while they were there. When they returned, they went back to their separate family’s homes and lived in them until March of the next year. By March, their secret was out, and friends, family, and neighbors held a chivery, for them. They brought gifts to the happy young couple, and banged on pans in congratulations as the two arrived.
In those early years, she tells of a time she was chasing Merle around the outside of the house with a rolling pin all in fun when what to there wondering eyes should appear, but one of his relatives. One of those things you never live down.
Because Merle was a farmer, the two always resided on farmland, naturally. When they first moved out of their childhood homes to live together, they rented a house about a mile from Merle’s parents, Frank and Maud (Klontz) Wolf. After a year’s time, they moved to a house located between Garland and Fort Scott, Kansas. It was here that a new addition to Merle and Anna Mayme’s household came about a year and a half after they were married. Her name was Virginia. She was the first of four children and, like her mother, was the only girl. Virginia soon gained two little brothers, David Merle and Nathan Llewellyn.
In 1948, the family relocated to a farm in the Diamond community of Fort Scott, Kansas, where they bought an eighty-acre farm. Anna was very pregnant with her fourth child, and on February 9, 1948, the day after they completed the sale of the farm, Garen Wolf was born. Eventually, a neighbor taught Merle carpentry, and he often shingled and painted houses in addition to tending to the farm. They went to church together in that community until there was a fight over holiness and the church closed. Some time later, a woman started Sunday school, and then revivals started. This finally led to the reopening of the church. Even then, they were only able to have a preacher every other Sunday.
The family spent a lot of quality time together fishing. Merle loved to fish, and Anna Mayme enjoyed it, but got quite impatient if she was not successful in catching something quickly. Merle took the children to the Fort Scott fair as well, and young David would show his pony there. Sometimes they went to Merle’s parents’ house for Christmas, but seldom visited Anna’s father. Most of their holidays were spent at home. To ensure that the family had a delightful Christmas full of surprises, Merle would go out at night and hunt opossums, raccoons, and other creatures. He sold these animal furs in order to attain money for Christmas gifts.
A relative owned a soft coal mine nearby, and in the winter, the family would take an old axle and a pickaxe to the mine in order to get the coal they needed. The coal was so soft, you could hit the inverted axle with the axe, and the coal would come loose. At home, the coal was burned in a large stove. The house stayed quite warm; that soft coal burned so hot that the pipe would sometimes get cherry red.
There are many tales of the children’s antics on that eighty-acre farm. The time Nathan was hoeing with little Garen pulling weeds in the row ahead of him when “smack” the hoe split Garen’s head open. What does a lady do when she has little money and is several miles from town? Just pour crinoline in the wound, bandage it tightly and expect the wonderful human body to heal itself.
To this day she won’t believe anyone that tries to laughingly tell her that her very own
boys put beer in a bucket and let it down in a well to keep it cold. Her boys wouldn’t do that! It seems more likely they put it down there so she wouldn’t find it. Everyone else seems to think the rope rotted and the beer is at the bottom of the well.
The years passed quickly and all her children were married. Virginia met Willard at Kansas City College and Bible School. She never finished college, but she was a great pastor’s wife. David and Barbara ran off and got married in Arkansas. Nathan, the student body president of the Fort Scott community college married one of the Homecoming Princesses.
Most of his family was involved in matchmaking for Garen. Several years before he dated his bride to be, David offered his car and a twenty-dollar bill if Garen would date Sheila. Garen wanted to do his own match making and declined the offer. He is very sorry to this day. It is the only time he ever turned down money. What was he thinking? His mom was very, very happy when he finally dated Sheila.
Anna worked as a nurses’ aide at Mercy Hospital for several years, but when her children had all left home, she decided to go back to school. She enrolled in the Fort Scott Junior College again, this time studying to become an LPN. After two years of going to school year-round, she graduated with high grades and then became a private night nurse at the hospital. Her first private case she took over someone else’s place and made three dollars an hour. By the time she left the hospital, she was possibly up to fifteen dollars an hour. Obviously, Mrs. Anna Wolf was well liked by her patients! She thoroughly enjoyed her job as a nurse, but like all things, it could not last forever. She drove herself to work, but in bad weather, Merle would pick her up at the hospital. Eventually, he reached the point where he could no longer drive to pick her up, and she quit.
A spring day 1972 changed her life forever. She was standing on a stool working with her curtains, slipped fell, and broke her ankle. There was the trip to the emergency room and then surgery. The doctors made a mess of her ankle. She was taken to a Kansas City hospital. The news was not good. Another operation, scraping the bone, pins in her ankle, a wheelchair for many weeks all without the results she desired. Her ankle was never right again. She would always walk with a limp. That limp put pressure on her hip’s ball and socket and slowly deteriorated until she has no ball and socket left. As a result, her right leg became probably 2 inches shorter than her left leg
By this time, she was a grandmother to seven beautiful grandchildren, later to be eight with the addition of Rachelle. She made picture books for her grandchildren from spiral notebooks and pictures from magazines. Grandma Wolf, as she was known, had always excelled in the English language spoken and written and she used her writing talents to retell the story of the children of Israel adding fictional characters to make an interesting devotional for her grandchildren.
As time passed, they began renting part of their farm out, but the two lived in the farmhouse until Merle died. It was hard to leave the farm with its beautiful roses, spacious yard, privacy, and memories. But it was hard to live alone, so Anna rented a house in town in a community called Ironquill, choosing to keep the farm and rent it out for a while. Renters proved to be quite a hassle, often neglecting to pay rent. Soon it was evident that the farm must be sold. Anna used the money from the property to pay off the funeral expenses and continued to live at Ironquill.
She continued to attend church in Deerfield, where she had attended with her husband. However, she did not like to drive alone, and ended up hitting a bridge on the way to church one Sunday. After that, she attended the Nazarene church in Fort Scott, very near to her house at Ironquill. There she was actively involved, and was always a member of the church choir.
She became very sick and was hospitalized for a length of time. The doctor didn’t feel she should live alone any more. Her youngest son, Garen was living in Cincinnati, Ohio and teaching at God’s Bible School. Grandma Wolf loved G.B.S., but even more, she knew she would enjoy living with four of her grandchildren. She asked Garen and Sheila if she could live with them. A garage sale and a seven hundred mile trip later she found herself at 1803 Josephine Street.
She recently had her 91st birthday. Her nurse told her this week that her hearing and pulse are very strong, her mind is clear and she is looking forward to many more years.
Grandma made her flight to heaven today. She was 95. Thank you, Lord, for such a heritage. Thank you for the Kansas years and the Cincinnati years with Grandma. Thank you for the sweet, sweet memories. Keep her close until we can all be together again.