My Mom the School Teacher

My mom, Esther Sprague, attained her teacher’s certification and started teaching when she was barely 18 years old. Some of the male students were older than her. She was pretty and soon attracted the attention of the single gentlemen in the area―including my dad, George Sprague.

Dad boasted about how the young men spruced up their best buggies and horses to stroll around the new “teacher lady’s” schoolhouse. He swaggered with pride that he was the one to win “her favors!”

After their marriage, my mom moved in with him and her in-laws on their prosperous farm. The household included my Grandma Mimmi (who ruled the roost), Grandpa Clarence, and my Aunt Helen (who was unmarried and worked in Eau Claire). For my mom, this household was quite different from her own large and exuberant family of first-generation Swedish Americans.

She was one of 13 children―and seven sisters. Every Sunday her family gathered with aunts, uncles, and cousins at Grandma Hysen’s farm. There was a group of cousins older than me, who I didn’t know very well.

But I was lucky to have lots of cousins about my age. We played War Games divided up by the “Holsteins vs. Guernseys” or “Boys Against the Girls.” When we played “The City Kids vs. The Country Kids,” the City Kids were badly outnumbered. Marlys and Onie a (and their two young siblings) didn’t like that game. Sometimes, I joined their team to help them out. I was always ready to lead the battle in whatever team I was on.

Lively and strong-willed, all the adults in my household doted on me. They encouraged my independent (stubborn) streak. I think that I might have been a handful for my mom. It was hard for her to discipline me with all of them cheering me on. I confess that maybe I took advantage of that situation!

Despite my willful defiance, I adored all of them. My dad was my hero. And my mom was my rock.

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