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Chapter Eleven
Nebraska, 1918-1926

Our idea of going to and staying with the Great Western was that it was an agricultural industry and all of their factories were in permanent towns with schools, churches and normal life, suitable for growing children. I started at much lower pay than I had been making, only about half, and had to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week then, something that had been out of date for many, many years in the mining and general industries, but we had the three kiddies on our hands and no accumulated money. At this time, it may be well to briefly explain the difference between the mining-metallurgical game with that of a strictly agricultural industry, such as sugar.

Speaking in general, as there are always exceptions to any rule, mining has much more romance and interest than does sugar, or similar industries. One meets and knows more interesting people in mining, very much more interesting. Around any group of mining men there will always be one or more who has worked in far away interesting places such as Alaska, Africa, Korea, South America and the like. There is a wholesomeness about mining people that is unique, they play hard work hard and fight hard, but their hearts are really bigger, I believe, than those of agricultural peoples. Probably all this is because they live a broader more cosmopolitan life.

On the other hand the mining game, in general, just is not for the family man. Too many times the family cannot be with the man for months or years, and, if they are together, life is not fair to either the wife or children. One generally makes considerably more money in the mining game, but the moving life and restlessness generally tends to spending it as fast as you make it, so you actually do not net any more.

All this adds up to the fact that at this point, this story will change, because from now on, with few exceptions, there are not the interesting, unusual and exciting people, places and events to talk about. In other words, we now settle down to somewhat of a normal way of life and our interests and hence this story becomes entirely the story of our family. It is good and proper that this is so.

We were at Scottsbluff, Nebraska from the fall of 1918, until the spring of 1920. At the Scottsbluff factory, I was a routine chemist in the true sense of the word, rather just a cook book analyst. Then, I was special analyst doing a little more of what could be termed chemical work, the potash chemist and then assistant chemist or better named shift chemist, in charge of a small crew. Sugar chemistry is completely different than metallurgical chemistry yet all laboratory work is basically the same, so I had considerable advantage over my fellow workers, in that I had been in charge of assay offices, really laboratories, for years; hence my rapid promotions. Sugar factory pay was then very much lower than that in the mining industry, for two reasons. First, mining pay rates had through many years been favorably affected by unionism, whereas there never had been a union in a beet sugar factory. Second, a sugar factory being located in agricultural towns naturally tended towards the then very low pay of farm help. In a broad sense, the general caliber of the sugar workers was definitely lower than that of those in the mining industry, because the labor, the same as with any other commodity, you generally get what you pay for.

Our one and only daughter was born in Scottsbluff in December 10, 1919. We named her Anne Elizabeth and, as you know called her Anne. In a sense we named her Anne after Anne Hartman, the wife of my boss, then chief chemist at Scottsbluff, who had been so very good to us.

Prices of everything were very high then, immediately following the war, my pay was very low, so we had comparatively hard times then. It was hard for us to adjust from the free spending, high pay atmosphere of the mining world to that of the new. Many a time I almost quit and went back to my first love. This was when I grew my first real garden, it being the first opportunity in my life to do so. We had a glorious garden of every kind of vegetable and I had very good luck, because I carefully followed instructions of those who knew. This garden really helped us eat well, not having all the varied fresh vegetables, but we had an excess that the grocery man was anxious to get and in that way we swapped our vegetables for his staples and meats, the same as a farmer does.

While at Scottsbluff we formed two life long, close family friendships. One was with Dick and Anne Hartman, actually the V. V. Hartmans; he was chief chemist and my boss. He recently retired, went to California and passed away two years ago, a wonderfully fine man. The other close friends were the R. L. Colwell's, Colly and Vera. We had known Vera as Vera Turney, as one of the young school teachers in our Leadville days, but had lost track of her. The Colwells were and are our dearest friends in the Sugar Company and all through our sugar life. He was then traveling, or District Chemist, in charge of the company's laboratories in Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana, hence was then Dick Hartman's boss and my big boss. Colly recently retired as superintendent of our Fort Collins, Colorado plant. They still live in Fort Collins and we see them frequently. For years they were the same as aunt and uncle to son Henry, who would spend days at a time with them.

At Scottsbluff, Florence resumed her church singing which had been out at Galconda and Climax where there were no churches. She became soloist of The Methodist Church and this went far in giving us friends of the class we would not otherwise had in my comparatively lowly job.

In the spring of 1920 they promoted me to chief chemist of the Bayard, Nebraska plant, about thirty miles down the North Platte River from Scottsbluff. We remained there until the spring of 1926 when they sent me as chief chemist to their new Johnstown, Colorado plant.

Son John was born in Bayard in November 7, 1924. We named him John Garnett, after our dear friend T. H. Garnett, Monk, and John Mac Intyre. We liked Bayard, excepting for the wind and sand storms, there were some unusually nice people there. We formed three particularly close family life long friendships.

First there were the John Lowensteins. He managed the lumber yard. They too had a family of children, a little older than ours. Mrs. L. was a remarkable pianist, without any question, the finest we have ever known personally. She had been, before her marriage, accompanist to the famous violinist, Fritz Kreisler. She accompanied Florence at church and other musical affairs, and this was the starting basis of our close friendship. John had a serious case of diabetes and went to the great Mayo Clinic at Rochester, Minnesota, when we first knew them. That was when insulin was just discovered and Mayo's were cautiously trying it out. John Lowenstein was one of their very first patients to whom they gave this new drug insulin, hence one of the first in the United States. Mrs. Lowenstein went with him and the Mayo's trained her in the dieting for diabetes and use of insulin so as she could take proper care of John. She became so proficient in this that, during the next several years, doctors from all over that part of the state would consult with her as an expert on the recommendations of the Mayo's. She took such wonderfully good care of John that he has lived a long and useful life, has just recently retired and they are now living in Pueblo, Colorado, he being well into his seventies. Oddly, by a quirk of fate, about fifteen years ago Mrs. L. developed a serious case of diabetes herself. So, now she has herself as a patient.

Then, there were the C. H. Nineger's, Charlie and Hazel. He had been a Baptist minister, but had quit the church for economical reasons, at that time was my lead assistant in the laboratory. They lived on a small ten acre tract on the edge of town and had a family of kiddies approximately the same ages are ours. Our children spent many happy days and hours at the Ninegar 'farm.' Son Bill sometimes visits with a couple of the now adult Ninegar children who live in California. Charlie is now retired, they live on their Bayard Tract, she is very active in club work on a statewide basis, and he has gone back to preaching at times, now with the Presbyterian church. He preaches in various towns almost every Sunday as the regular pastors are sick or on vacation, etc. -- a wonderful family, the Ninegars.

Then, there were Viola and Jim Stockwell, the James A. Stockwell's. Ollie, then Ollie Davis, had a wonderfully beautiful contralto voice. She and mother sang together a great deal. Jim and Ollie did a great deal of courting at our house. They were fine young folks. At that time, he was just starting to work as a young teller in the bank. As the years went by, he became a real success, finally being president and principle owner of the bank, as well as being on the board of several other banks up and down the valley, but they always remained good old Ollie and Jim. Unfortunately Jim passed away suddenly about four years ago.

Bayard happened to be quite a musical town. They finally got together and organized as an amateur company, so to speak, putting on operettas, etc., on a semi-professional basis, such as the different Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Florence was soprano soloist, hence always had a leading part, and Ollie always was the lead contralto. They achieved quite a reputation over that part of Nebraska, and deservedly so.

While we were at Bayard we became very active in the Christian Church.

The first tragedy of our life happened while we were in Bayard during our first fall there. Our son Charles passed away as the result of being shot with a supposedly empty rifle. We don't ever talk about this great loss, but inside we grieve unto this day. Such a loss, especially under such shocking and tragic circumstances takes something out of the mother and father and leaves a void that nothing ever cures. We have suspected that some, yes even our own children, have wondered if we are not callous in not having shown our grief through the years and apparently having wiped it out of our memories. The truth is that when the grief goes so terribly deep, you just keep it within yourself, it does not help to show it or talk about it. This is the only time in my life I have tried to explain it to anyone. It is our great prayer that no such tragedy ever enters any of your lives.

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©1958 James H. Zisch, ©1974 James H. Zisch, III