The Stifles

These are my maternal grandparents, Harry and Bertha Stifle. 
We called them Grandpa Harry and Grandma Bertie. 

Maternal grandparents are the mother’s parents. 
Paternal grandparents are the father’s parents.
The Stifles are my maternal grandparents, and were about the same age as Annetta; both were born in 1905. 
This is the grandma that made quilts on a treadle sewing machine. 

I want to tell you about some health issues of their time. 

Grandma Bertie's mother's name was 'Nettie Swarnes'. 
Grandma Bertie had 4 siblings. Three of them died stillborn. 
Back then, many women wore corsets to enhance their figures. 
Family lore says her babies died because she insisted wearing her corset while pregnant. 
Grandma Bertie’s only living sibling, Uncle Frank, contracted polio as a child, and was wheelchair-bound most of his short life. 

Grandma Bertie calculated how many children a woman had carried to birth, by the number of teeth she was missing. 
In the old days, women of the ordinary class would lose one tooth per child. 
The mother gives the baby calcium from herself to help the baby grow. 

• Pregnant females need extra nutrients (not just calories) to feed the baby without losing it from their own bodies. 
One important supplement during pregnancy is ‘Folic Acid’. 
Don’t be scared of the term ‘acid’ in this context. While industrial acids are harmful, nutritional acids are good for us.
Your stomach uses a 'gastric acid' to help digest your food, so certain acids are part of human biology.

Back to Folic Acid. Even males need Folic Acid, which we mostly get when we eat leafy vegetables. 
But unborn babies need extra Folic Acid to help their spines grow correctly, so they can run and play with the other kids in school. 

Now, about Grandpa Harry. Look closely at how he holds his hook in his right hand. 
That’s right, he doesn’t have two hands; he has one hand and one hook. 

The story? Grandpa worked for many years as a farm-hand (an employee for farmers). 
He was finally able to rent a small farm, and put to farming for himself. Very exciting. 

They raised hogs, had milk cows and planted corn. 
When it came time to harvest the corn, Grandpa used a mechanical corn picker that was powered by the tractor that pulled it. 
Sometimes, the old-style corn pickers plugged up. 
The farmer was supposed to turn off the power to the corn picker, fix what was plugged, then get on the tractor, 
resend power to the corn picker, and go back to work. 

Once, Grandpa didn’t shut the machine off first. So when he unplugged it, it stared up again and chewed off his hand. 
He not only lost his hand that day; he lost his dream. He couldn’t farm anymore, because of limited medical technology of the day, and their own financial condition wouldn’t let him overcome that handicap. Kind of like Barton.

They spent the rest of their lives in that 22’ x 22’, one-bedroom house, and he pumped gas for a living until he retired. 

Now you have met half of my grandparents. 
They liked kids, and they would be happy knowing they helped you learn something. 

Eric J. Rose 
photo: 1964, EJR archives 
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